His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos Harkianakis
Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia
Born in Rethymnon, Crete (29-12-1935), he studied at the Theological School of Halki, Constantinople. In late 1957, he was ordained to the Diaconate. Upon graduating and being ordained to the Priesthood in 1958, he received a scholarship from the Ecumenical Patriarchate to complete postgraduate studies in Systematic Theology and Philosophy of Religion in Bonn, W. Germany (1958-1966). In order to become a Doctor of Divinity from an Orthodox Theological Faculty, rather than from an analogous western Faculty, he submitted in 1965 his doctoral dissertation entitled ‘The Infallibility of the Church in Orthodox Theology’ [in Greek], to the Theological Faculty of the University of Athens.
Upon his return from Germany in 1966, he was appointed Abbot of the historic Patriarchal Monastery of Vlatades, Thessaloniki (14th cent.), within which he was requested by the Holy Synod of Constantinople to help establish, together with other scholars of the local Theological Faculty, what was to be called ‘The Patriarchal Institute of Patristic Studies’. He soon became the Vice-President of that research centre, a role had for a few months before becoming President. Upon completing his post-doctoral dissertation under the title ‘The Dogmatic Constitution De Ecclesia of the Second Vatican Council’ (Thessaloniki), he became Associate Professor at the University of Thessaloniki in 1969. In the years immediately following, he also lectured at various Faculties and academic institutions, within Greece and Abroad, especially at the University of Regensburg, W. Germany, in 1973. He was unanimously elected by the Holy Synod of Constantinople as Titular Metropolitan of Militoupolis and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for Mount Athos in 1970 (residing at the Monastery of Vlatades).
Five years later, he was again unanimously elected Archbishop of Australia, arriving in Sydney in April 1975. He has published widely in Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology in international theological journals, and has represented the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Assemblies of the World Council of Churches and in bilateral Dialogues. From 1975 he had also taught Orthodox theology and spirituality at the University of Sydney. He was unanimously elected in 1980 by all representatives of Orthodox Churches as their Chairman in the official Theological Dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church, while his Co-Chair, Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, was appointed by the Vatican. After serving faithfully for more than two decades in this highly responsible and difficult position, he tendered his third and final resignation (15th April 2003) – having attempted this twice before without acceptance – when he published an extensive Report, titled “The Misfortune of the Official Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholics” ([in Greek] Epistimoniki Epetirida of the Theological School, Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, vol. 13, 2003).
He is also a recognized essayist and poet, having published 37 collections of poetry (all of these in Greek and some translated Bilingual editions). For his outstanding contribution to European culture, and after being nominated by the distinguished Philologist of the University of Vienna, Professor Albin Lesky, he received from the relevant Committee the prestigious international award Gottfried von Herder in Vienna, 1973. Then, in 1980, having been nominated by the renowned writer Pantelis Prevelakis, Archbishop Stylianos received the Award for Poetry from the Academy of Athens. The University of Lublin, Poland, conferred on him an honorary doctorate (1985), while the Sydney College of Divinity awarded him its first ever honorary doctorate (2001). In 2005, he was acknowledged as a Professor by an independent academic panel of the Sydney College of Divinity. In 2014, he received Honorary Doctorate from the University of Crete. Archbishop Stylianos is also Dean and Founder (in 1986) of St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College, Sydney, where he continually lectures in Systematic Theology.