South Australia, March 29, 2021
Two Greek members of the Parliament of South Australia were intentionally not invited to attend the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia’s celebration of the 200th anniversary of Greek Independence held on Sunday, March 21.
“We did not extend a formal invitation to Ms. Bonaros and Ms. Pnevmatikos,” Bishop Silouan of Sinope told Neos Kosmos, explaining that the decision was made after they voted in favor of the abortion law reform that was recently passed by the South Australian Parliament.
The new law decriminalizes abortion and allows for late-term abortions under certain circumstances. Archbishop Makarios of Australia wrote a letter of protest when a similar bill was being considered by the New South Wales Parliament in 2019, and 4 hierarchs and thousands of Orthodox faithful participated in the “Stand for Life” protest against the bill in August 2019.
Despite not being formally invited to the recent event, the two MPs could have attended, Bp. Silouan noted.
MP Bonaros said, however: “Let me be crystal clear, I didn’t attend Sunday’s commemorative service because I wasn’t invited—and that was deeply hurtful to me.”
The Parliamentarian objected that she and MP Pnevmatikos were singled out, while other MPs who had voted in favor of the law were invited, to which Bp. Silouan responded that Premier Marshall was invited because he is the one who grants permission to hold the celebration at the local Warm Memorial and because he “is not Greek Orthodox therefore we do not expect him to share the same views with us in regards to abortion.”
“We both received correspondence from the Greek Orthodox Church of Australia Archbishop Makarios, chastising us and suggesting penitence for our views on abortion law reform which was voted and passed recently by the South Australian Parliament,” said MP Pnevmatikos.
“We all have differing views, and we need to be mindful and respect the differing views and opinions that exist. However, there is no place in our State Parliament for Church-made legislation,” she added.
Focusing on what divides rather than rallying around the Greek identity is like a return to “to a system that existed in Greek society under Ottoman rule,” the MP concluded.