The members of the 3rd Episcopal Assembly of all canonical Orthodox Bishops of Oceania welcomed once again the opportunity to meet in Sydney from October 14-15, 2012, under the chairmanship ex officio of His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos of Australia. The Assembly commenced with prayer at the central offices of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia. Present were:
His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos (Ecumenical Patriarchate)
His Grace Bishop Irinej (Serbian Church)
His Grace Bishop Mihail (Romanian Church)
His Eminence Metropolitan Amphilochios (Ecumenical Patriarchate – New Zealand)
His Grace Bishop Ezekiel (Assistant Bishop)
His Grace Bishop Seraphim (Assistant Bishop)
His Grace Bishop Nikandros (Assistant Bishop)
His Grace Bishop Iakovos (Assistant Bishop)
The Very Reverend Father Michael Protopopov (Representing His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church)
Reverend Father Michael Smolynec and Very Reverend Father Wolodymyr Lulka (Representing His Eminence Archbishop Ioan of Parnassou of the Ukranian Orthodox Church in the Diaspora).
It should be noted that Metropolitan Paul Saliba of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand, was not present at this assembly, due to attending the emergency meetings of Antiochian Orthodox hierarchs which were convened by His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatios. The meetings dealt with discussing the ever-worsening situation and civil strife gripping the Middle East and how the Church and its leadership could respond to the region’s ongoing conflicts.
Nevertheless the Bishops of the Third Episcopal Assembly continued the work of the Second Assembly, held in Sydney in October last year. They carefully listened to the pastoral challenges confronting our respective Churches and heard the Reports of the relevant Committees, noting with pleasure the progress that has been made in the following areas:
*1. The realisation of a Synaxis meeting of Hierarchy and Clergy of all canonical jurisdictions, on Monday 30th April 2012, in Melbourne, for the purpose of furthering brotherly relations in order to carry out the decisions of the Assembly on a local level. The plans are already in place for continuing such Synaxes in Sydney and Auckland (New Zealand) with the anticipation of doing so in other major Australian cities as well;
*2. The timely celebration of the 1,700th Anniversary of the Edict of Milan (2013), which historically granted religious tolerance, given that today’s religious freedom is being challenged. In realisation of the same, a sub-committee is being formed under the chairmanship of His Grace Bishop Seraphim;
*3. The formation of the Orthodox Christian Chaplaincy Council of Victoria (OCCCV) and subsequent appointment of its first co-ordinator (Mr Daniel Bellis) for Hospital Chaplaincy in Victoria;
*4. In accordance with the aim of issuing responsible joint statements on the ethical dimensions of proposed Government legislation, the Assembly issued on 22nd March 2012 its first statement for the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in Canberra regarding the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012; and
*5. The official website of the Assembly, that will inform our faithful of its work and provide a source of information including a catalogue of Canonical Orthodox Clergy and Parishes of Oceania, is currently under construction and nearing completion.
It was unanimously agreed that:
*1. In concert with the Mother Churches, this Assembly will establish a common practice for the receiving of Orthodox Christians coming from ambiguous and/or non-canonical ecclesiastical circumstances; and
*2. The Assembly decries the unlawful imprisonment of Archbishop Jovan of Ochrid and Metropolitan of Skopje and the continued persecution of the members of the Archdiocese of Ochrid and members of his family. Further to this, the Assembly calls upon the Government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to immediately release Archbishop Jovan and to cease and desist persecuting the Archdiocese of Ochrid, whilst calling upon our faithful to join in prayer on behalf of Archbishop Jovan.
Dated 15th October, 2012.