ABC investigation

Greek Orthodox Church took tens of millions in rent from aged care home at centre of deadliest COVID outbreak

PHOTO: An ABC investigation has found a group of taxpayer-funded aged care homes funnelled $31 million back into the coffers of one of Australia’s largest churches.

A group of taxpayer-funded aged care homes funnelled $31 million back into the coffers of one of Australia’s largest churches, an ABC investigation has found.

The homes include St Basil’s in Melbourne, where 45 residents died in Australia’s deadliest COVID outbreak.

In the past eight years, St Basil’s paid more than $22 million in rent and fees to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese while receiving federal government funding.

A commercial real estate agent told Background Briefing this was double the rental market rate.

Towards the end of that period, the church was funding the lavish lifestyle of its newly appointed Archbishop, including the purchase of a $6.5 million Sydney apartment with harbour views.

A vow of poverty

Archbishop Makarios.
Greek Orthodox leader Archbishop Makarios was thronged with fans at his enthronement in 2019. (AAP: Dylan Coker)

Archbishop Makarios, who oversees the church’s schools, parishes and aged care homes, arrived on Australia’s shores in the middle of 2019 to much fanfare.

He was swamped by thousands at his enthronement in Sydney and photographed meeting the Prime Minister along with other political and business leaders.

“Until the end of my life, I belong to Australia,” he declared, choking back tears.

But as he toured the country in his first months in charge, some in the church noted his lifestyle seemed excessive for a man who had taken a vow of poverty.

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