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Author Topic: More Happenings at Esphigmenou Monastery  (Read 11253 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: June 03, 2008, 12:04:56 AM »

Could someone provide a brief and balanced summary of what's going on at the Monastery?  The Monastery's website is full of pictures of people in military gear and monks in various states of distress plus diatribes against the Greek Government.
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« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2008, 12:05:58 AM »

Lord have Mercy.

Could someone provide a brief and balanced summary of what's going on at the Monastery?  The Monastery's website is full of pictures of people in military gear and monks in various states of distress plus diatribes against the Greek Government.

Yeah could someone please expand on this.
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« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2008, 12:06:59 AM »

Could someone provide a brief and balanced summary of what's going on at the Monastery?  The Monastery's website is full of pictures of people in military gear and monks in various states of distress plus diatribes against the Greek Government.

That is because the Greek Government approved a prosecutor's request 9 days ago to use force to expel the monks so that the Patriarchate could put an impostor monastery in, as they had done on the other resisting monasteries.

And they sent over 200 police.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2008, 12:07:33 AM by Suaiden » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2008, 12:19:13 AM »

Very sad - big time masonic EP.  No dissension will be allowed on Athos or anywhere else.
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« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2008, 12:26:08 AM »

Very sad - big time masonic EP.  No dissension will be allowed on Athos or anywhere else.
Unless you have evidence to support your allegation that the EP is a freemason, the above is nothing short of libel and totally inappropriate for this forum.
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« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2008, 12:26:08 AM »

This comes from the Orthodox Wiki article for Esphigmenou.

While Esphigmenou is ranked eighteenth among the twenty monasteries on Mount Athos, it withdrew its representative from the Holy Community in 1974 and does not take part in the assemblies of the Community. The withdrawal by the monks was precipitated by a break with the Ecumenical Patriarch for violations of the doctrines of the Church in regards to the Ecumenical Patriarchate's relations with non-Orthodox, particularly its involvement in the Ecumenical Movement. Esphigmenou has also refused funding from the European Union. The abbot, Methodius, stated that the monks of Esphigmenou Monastery had refused fifteen million euros that was offered by the European Union to the monastery, noting that offers of such large amounts of money surely are made in the expectation of receiving something in exchange.

On December 20, 2006, a group of Esphigmenou monks clashed violently with another group of monks outside the monastery, when the outside monks attempted to gain access to the monastery's representative offices in Karyes. The monks have refused an eviction order by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and in October 2006, a Thessaloniki court issued two-year suspended sentences against nine monks and former monastery members for illegally occupying Esphigmenou's offices.
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« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2008, 12:28:57 AM »

This comes from the Orthodox Wiki article for Esphigmenou.

While Esphigmenou is ranked eighteenth among the twenty monasteries on Mount Athos, it withdrew its representative from the Holy Community in 1974 and does not take part in the assemblies of the Community. The withdrawal by the monks was precipitated by a break with the Ecumenical Patriarch for violations of the doctrines of the Church in regards to the Ecumenical Patriarchate's relations with non-Orthodox, particularly its involvement in the Ecumenical Movement. Esphigmenou has also refused funding from the European Union. The abbot, Methodius, stated that the monks of Esphigmenou Monastery had refused fifteen million euros that was offered by the European Union to the monastery, noting that offers of such large amounts of money surely are made in the expectation of receiving something in exchange.

On December 20, 2006, a group of Esphigmenou monks clashed violently with another group of monks outside the monastery, when the outside monks attempted to gain access to the monastery's representative offices in Karyes. The monks have refused an eviction order by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and in October 2006, a Thessaloniki court issued two-year suspended sentences against nine monks and former monastery members for illegally occupying Esphigmenou's offices.

The problem with this is that, iirc, the EP oversees all the monasteries on the Holy Mountain, so for any monastery on Mount Athos to refuse to submit to the EP is possibly a sin worthy of eviction.  I'm not sure of this, so I could very well be wrong.
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« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2008, 12:34:40 AM »

The problem with this is that, iirc, the EP oversees all the monasteries on the Holy Mountain, so for any monastery on Mount Athos to refuse to submit to the EP is possibly a sin worthy of eviction.  I'm not sure of this, so I could very well be wrong.

Also, there may be alumni from Esphigmenou who have established Old Caldenderist and other uncanonical Orthodox jurisdictions in Europe, USA and elsewhere.  The monastery has pretty much been in disagreement with the EP since the mutual anathemas establishing the Great Schism were lifted in 1964.  I read an article that several monks were being charged and tried with Heresy which made absolutely no sense in the modern world.
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« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2008, 12:48:21 AM »

Note undated letter from University of Ioannina Professor to then Greek Foreign Minister - from the Esphigmenou website.  There are also letters to former US politicians (Sen. Paul Sarbanes retired in 2006), New York Times, European Parliament & Amnesty International.  The sole issue is the refusal to recognize Patr. Bartholomew as canonical EP.

Your Excellency,

The Monastery of Esphigmenou is being persecuted because it refuses to recognize Mr. Bartholomew as the canonical Patriarch. This persecution is UNJUST, however, because Mr. Bartholomew is a leader of the heresy of Ecumenism and TRAMPLES ON THE HOLY CANONS AND THE HOLY TRADITION OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH. Not only does he trample on the Holy Canons, but in his PhD Dissertation (page 73) he also suggests that they be changed, so as to make it legal for him to have joint prayers with the Pope of Rome and other heretics, who have been officially excommunicated by the Orthodox Church.

In addition to making various heretical statements, Mr. Bartholomew consistently and on purpose violates the relevant Holy Canons (e.g., 10, 11, 45, 46, 47, 65 of the Holy Apostles, 33 of the Laodicea Local Synod), because he wants to change the traditional canonical law, so that he can unite the various churches, despite their dogmatic differences. (This is the heresy of Ecumenism in a nutshell.)

Now, since the Holy Canons are protected by the Greek Constitution (Article 3), I think that it is the duty of the Government to at least stop Mr. Bartholomew from persecuting those who strive to keep the Holy Tradition intact. The Government mustn't allow Mr. Bartholomew, who violates both the Ecclesiastical and the secular law, to persecute those who simply refuse to comply with his illegal behavior. They have the right to do so, according to the 15th Holy Canon of the so called "A and B" Holy Synod (861 A.D.). The Ecclesiastical History is full of examples of Saints who have done the same in similar circumstances. The irony is that Mr. Bartholomew, who, as I wrote above, tramples on the Holy Canons, nonetheless cites the 13th Canon of the "A and B" Synod to punish those who actively criticize his illegal behavior!!!

We all know from our history that Mr. Bartholomew's illegal behavior can easily lead to schisms and other deleterious consequences for our nation. So, what is the Greek Government going to do? Is she going to stop the patriarch who works against the interests of our nation, or take his side by simply watching his destructive work?

Yours faithfully,

Dimitris Hatzinikolaou

Assistant Professor Department of Economics

University of Ioannina
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« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2008, 12:54:28 AM »

We all know from our history that Mr. Bartholomew's ....

 Roll Eyes Yeah..... Very helpul.....
I would have thought an Ass. Prof. would have more maturity.....
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« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2008, 01:01:56 AM »

Note undated letter from University of Ioannina Professor to then Greek Foreign Minister - from the Esphigmenou website.  There are also letters to former US politicians (Sen. Paul Sarbanes retired in 2006), New York Times, European Parliament & Amnesty International.  The sole issue is the refusal to recognize Patr. Bartholomew as canonical EP.

University of Ioannina[/color]

I wrote my own letter, I didn't like the examples much either.

Shall you now condemn 107 monks to death or homelessness for politics, when they have done nothing?
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« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2008, 01:03:09 AM »

Roll Eyes Yeah..... Very helpul.....
I would have thought an Ass. Prof. would have more maturity.....

Actually, that's a bad translation. "Mr.", I've seen many times in translations, is used for "Bp" as well.  Don't be so quick to judge.
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« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2008, 01:04:50 AM »

Note undated letter from University of Ioannina Professor to then Greek Foreign Minister - from the Esphigmenou website.  There are also letters to former US politicians (Sen. Paul Sarbanes retired in 2006), New York Times, European Parliament & Amnesty International.  The sole issue is the refusal to recognize Patr. Bartholomew as canonical EP.

...
But, OTOH, does a monastery under the EP's hierarchical oversight have the canonical right to anathematize the EP and reject his authority without first bringing their case to an ecclesiastical court?  (Kinda hard to do, of course, when the EP is the canonical court of last appeal, but still... the principle that one may need to be officially condemned of heresy by the Church before those under his authority can revolt without canonical penalty.)
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« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2008, 01:05:18 AM »

The problem with this is that, iirc, the EP oversees all the monasteries on the Holy Mountain, so for any monastery on Mount Athos to refuse to submit to the EP is possibly a sin worthy of eviction.  I'm not sure of this, so I could very well be wrong.

That's actually what's debated. The EP is normally the overseer of the Holy Mountain. However, when a monastery refuses to commemorate the EP for reasons of faith, historically they've been left alone.  That has not been the case with ecumenism, where every monastery-- except Esphigmenou-- has had its brotherhood physically replaced.
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« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2008, 01:07:57 AM »

In here, among legalese and history is the answer as to why the EP is wrong in forcing this eviction. It has to do with Athos' own bylaws and resolutions.

"A Rejoinder to a Challenge of the Legitimacy of the Orthodox Monastic Brotherhood of the Holy Monastery of Esphigmenou"

Published in Agios Agathangelos o Esphigmenites (September-October 2002), pp. 1-8.

In response to a legal brief regarding the Orthodox, Athonite tradition followed by the Holy Monastery of Esphigmenou that was authored by a committee of three legal scholars, we will briefly outline the facts on Esphigmenou from an Orthodox perspective. In doing so, we will also very candidly underline a number of observations and suggestions that, we believe, will assist the reader in understanding the circumstances of Orthodox confession on Mount Athos since 1924.

The Holy Monastery of Esphigmenou has always enjoyed a reputation of preeminence in spirituality among the monasteries of Mount Athos. Located on the north-eastern edge of the Athonite peninsula, the Monastery is often rendered inaccessible in the winter months due to rough weather that prevents travel by sea, while the rough terrain makes access by land difficult.

The Monastery was also one of the poorer monasteries of Mount Athos in that it lacked suitable woodlands necessary for the forestry that has often relieved other monasteries during times of need. Despite this fact, the Monastery is dominated by majestic buildings and is one of the larger monasteries in terms of area. Esphigmenou also possess a sizeable Katholikon, or monastery cathedral, that is dedicated to the Ascension of Christ.

The meek brotherhood has been characterized by its love for its visitors and its exemplary hospitality. Even today, the brotherhood selflessly makes a great effort to continue and preserve its tradition of hospitality, despite the limitations it confronts in the face of government restrictions of its income by order of the Athonite Community.

The Monastery recently completed the repair of its immense roof and has made a number of efforts to renovate much of its interior space. In the place of large dark rooms, the monks have built monastic cells, chapels, and other functional rooms while at the same time gradually improving the small dock that services the Monastery by sea. In addition to these improvements, the industrious monks of Esphigmenou have also renovated many buildings that are located within the Monastery’s compound, all the while fulfilling their spiritual duties as Orthodox monks. What is more, the brotherhood maintains a rigorous preservation program, going to great lengths to preserve the Monastery’s original architectural façade.

The brotherhood of Esphigmenou observes the tradition of the Monastery and—in general—of Mount Athos assiduously and with much diligence and piety. The Monastery is administered by the Abbot and the Council of Elders according to the Monastery’s charter as it has been approved by the Athonite Community and in compliance to Charter of the Holy Mountain.

The patriotism of Esphigmenou’s monks has historically proven to be noteworthy, especially during the Macedonian struggle in the early twentieth century. Moreover, the Monastery’s loyalty to the Ecumenical Patriarchate as well as its devotion to each of the Ecumenical Patriarchs has been stronger than that of other Athonite Monasteries. Indeed, Esphigmenou has supplied the Ecumenical Patriarchate with a number of great patriarchs such as St. Athanasios Patriarch of Constantinople (1298-1310).

In truth, the respect and love of other Athonite monasteries as well as of all the Athonite monks toward Esphigmenou has been evident for many years.

The relations between the Monastery of Esphigmenou and the governing body of the Athonite Community, where the Monastery had been always lawfully and canonically represented, had been without problem. Problems began to arise in 1924 with the illicit reform of the calendar. The Athonite Community, with the exception of the Monastery of Vatopaidi, collectively ceased commemorating the Ecumenical Patriarch. In 1927, however, a Patriarchal committee succeeded in negotiating a “compromise” of the faith that was accepted—as a result of much pressure—by all the Athonite Monasteries but not by all the Athonite monks.

The Patriarchal committee assured the Athonites that the calendar reform was not final in that it had not been accepted by all the Orthodox Churches. The issue, moreover, was to be reconsidered in an impending Pan-Orthodox Council that would resolve the matter accordingly. In this way, the Patriarchal committee persuaded the Athonite Community to continue observing the calendar first instituted by the First Ecumenical Council while commemorating the Ecumenical Patriarch, pending the resolution of the calendar question by a Pan-Orthodox Council. To the Athonite monks, this reassurance implied the reintroduction of the Old Calendar.

The compromise was accepted by all the Athonite monasteries but only partially by Esphigmenou as the monastery did not resume the commemoration of the Patriarch within the Monastery. It did, however, continue to receive representatives of the Patriarch and to commune with the other monasteries that commemorated. Its representatives, moreover, continued to participate and concelebrate at the Cathedral of Protatou where the name of the Patriarch was likewise commemorated.   

Their patience, however, was eventually spent as not only did the promised review of the calendar reform never materialize, but the Patriarchate allied itself with unbaptized “Christians” and became a founding member of the “World Council of Churches”. The Orthodox Churches thus became members of the newly established corporation of heretics following the lead of the formerly Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate. In truth, a plurality of “churches” does not exist so as to create a need to establish an institution such as the “World Council of Churches”. Thus, the participation of the Orthodox Churches in this institution represented a blasphemy and a diminution of the Church of Christ, contradicting the Symbol of the faith that states: “I believe . . . in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church”.

After the canonical infractions outlined above, in 1965 the Ecumenical Patriarchate “lifted” the anathemas against the illicit community headed by the Pope of Rome. This event caused upheaval across Mount Athos, as one monastery after another ceased commemorating the Patriarch. Thus, the majority of monasteries, sketes, and dependencies of Mount Athos ceased commemorating the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Concerning this matter, on November 13, 1971 a special session of the Holy Assembly (Ιερά Σύναξις)—the governing representative body of Mount Athos—was convened. This special session of the Holy Assembly resolved that: “On the issue of resuming the commemoration of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, each Holy Monastery, as a self-governing entity, is to remain free to choose a course of action according to its conscience.”

After the death of the Patriarch Athenagoras and the subsequent election of Patriarch Demetrios—who proclaimed at his enthronement speech that he would follow the example of his predecessor Athenagoras, even promising to establish a dialogue with Islam—the Monastery of Esphigmenou resolved to remain faithful to the 1971 resolution of the Holy Assembly. The Archimandrites Andreas and Eudokimos, the Abbots of St. Paul and Xenphontos Monasteries, also remained faithful to the resolution and as a result were removed from their offices as Abbots.

In all this there was one contradiction. The monasteries that refused to commemorate the Ecumenical Patriarch continued to send representatives to concelebrate at Protatou. Tolerance and economy in the name of unity could only last for a short time. In 1972, the Monastery of Esphigmenou ceased praying with representatives of the other monasteries and was subsequently expelled from the representative bodies of the Athonite Community. Since then, Esphigmenou has not been represented in the Athonite Community, as the Community attempted to intervene in the self-governance of Esphigmenou, over-stepping its authority and violating the 1971 resolution—and this, in matters of conscience and faith that touch upon personal salvation.

The Athonite Community (in 1974), lead by Fr. Theokletos of Dionysiou and in cooperation with the Patriarchal committee, consented to the unjust and unethical resolution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, condemning the Esphigmenite fathers on canonical infractions and the violation of the Charter of Mount Athos. The Patriarchal resolution, moreover, ordered the exile of the Esphigmenite Abbot Fr. Athanasios and two members of the Monastery’s Council as well as the Monastery’s Secretary.

For a second time, in 1979, the Patriarchal committee along with the Athonite Community, in violation of the Holy Canons and the Charter of Mount Athos, ordered the exile of Esphigmenite Abbot Fr. Euthymios and two other monks.

In both of the above cases, the entire brotherhood convened and pleaded their “illicit” and “condemned” leaders not to leave them orphaned, but to remain with them in the common struggle unto death, as happened.

*           *           *

In their legal brief, the three authors of the legal brief place blame on the Esphigmenite fathers on the grounds that: a) the Esphigmenite monks ceased commemorating the Patriarch, b) the Monastery’s failed to comply with the Patriarchal committee’s and the Athonite Community’s 1974 and 1979 exile sentences, and c) the Monastery’s refused to participate in the institutions of the Athonite Community through representatives.

What is clear, however, is that these scholars arbitrarily interpret the Charter of Mount Athos in order to incriminate the monks of Esphigmenou.

Before arriving to any conclusions, the reader should take the following points into consideration:

1.      The commemoration of the Patriarch and his Synod is an extremely important matter for which one must take into consideration, not only the Athonite Charter, but also the Rudder of the Orthodox Church. The regulations that are inscribed in the Rudder have been promulgated by the Holy Apostles and the Fathers of the Church through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and are therefore immutable. What is more, one must not overlook the centuries-long tradition of the Holy Mountain.

We cannot enumerate all the heretical views and deeds of the last three Patriarchs here. It should suffice to say, however, that instead of being corrected, these views and deeds continuously multiply. We will refer to only a few actions of the current Patriarch that alienate him from the Orthodox Faith.

a.      The “lifting” of the anathema against the Latins in 1965 implied the lifting of the excommunication of the unbaptized, heretical Latins.

b.      The agreement of Balamand, signed by representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate along with eight other Orthodox Churches, stating that “the Orthodox Church along with the Papal illicit community have the same Apostolic Succession and the same validity in their mysteries”, represents a deviation from the Orthodox Faith.

c.       The Patriarch Bartholomew referring to the representatives of the Pope during the feast of the Patriarchal throne on November 30, 1998, among other blasphemies, uttered the following statement: “In view of the fact that one Church recognizes the other Church as a locus of Grace, proselytization of members from one Church to the other is precluded.” (See Εκκλησιαστική Αλήθεια, December 12, 1998) This implies unity with the illicit community of the Pope. This, in contrast to the Orthodox Patriarchs of Constantinople who established strict punishments for those who accept the Latins’ “mysteries”.

In this state of affairs, the Holy Mountain and specifically the Monastery of Esphigmenou should imitate the martyrs who refused to commune with the Latinophron Patriarch John Bekkos (1275-1282) instead of imitating those monasteries that accepted Bekkos with the justification that he had not been yet deposed. The former were made worthy of a martyrs crown, the latter were scourged by the wrath of God as examples for modern times.

The legal brief attempts to judge the Monastery of Esphigmenou based on what antimension the monks use during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. It is a fact that most of the Athonite Monasteries, out of piety, use old antimensia, usually consecrated before 1920. Other antimensia are also used that were consecrated by later Orthodox bishops. To be sure, each monastery is not required to change its antimensia upon the ascension of each new Patriarch. If one out of the nineteen Athonite Monasteries celebrates liturgy on an antimension consecrated by the Metropolitan of Siderokastron, for example, does it stand to reason that that monastery belongs to the Metropolitan Diocese of Siderokastron? Moreover, does the Charter of Mount Athos explicitly forbid each monastery to use antimensia consecrated outside the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople? Many antimensia that are used today have been consecrated by reposed Hierarchs. Does it follow that a monastery that uses such an antimension belongs to the reposed Hierarch?

2.      Compliance with the 1974 and 1979 sentences imposed on the Esphigmenou Abbots was impossible, contrary to what the legal scholars say. Sentences that are passed on individuals on the grounds that they follow the mandates of the Orthodox Church are groundless and void, as the authors of the brief well know. Reasons of faith may not be lumped into the same category with administrative controversies that belong to the jurisdiction of each monastery. Accordingly, all the monks of Esphigmenou frequently convened in general assembly for the reason that they were each concerned about the salvation of their souls. While anxious over the fact that their monastery was about to enter into the furnace of tribulation, each took responsibility for the brotherhood’s collective defiance.

The legal brief repeatedly refers to the existence of “external agents” instigating the monks and strengthening the brotherhood’s resolve. The authors, however, need to demonstrate who these “external agents” were and how many. Vague accusations cannot stand. From what we know, the Esphigmenite fathers, as monastics, do not accept “councilors”, but rather, welcome whoever is willing to help them in their struggle. The monks of Esphigmenou are not persons that are led by the hand.

One should point out that despite the ruthless persecutions and the frequent economic embargoes that are imposed on them, the monks of Esphigmenou were able—with God’s aid—to have the largest monastic brotherhood of all the monasteries on Mount Athos.

Moreover, should an Orthodox Synod convene, not only will the Monastery’s unjust punishments be rejected, but the monks of Esphigmenou will be praised while their current unjust judges and their collaborators will be condemned.

3.      No fault may be found with the Monastery of Esphigmenou in the fact that it does not participate in the institutions of the Athonite Community. Despite its lack of participation, Esphigmenou does not ignore the authority of the Community. Evidence of this is the Monastery’s report to the Athonite Community of the election of new Abbots. Esphigmenou submits all the necessary paper-work, documentation, and a copy of the election resolution to the Community, notwithstanding the insincerity and irony on the part of the “holy” representatives. The Monastery, moreover, accepts unconditional participation in the representative institutions of the Holy Mountain. In this present context, however, the Community has placed conditions that violate the religious consciousness of the Esphigmenite monks. Esphigmenou, on its part, awaits the condemnation of the pan heresy of Ecumenism-Syncretism and, indeed, all heresy, and the restoration of Orthodoxy as it was for 1,920 years. Such an event would allow all the Athonite monks to come together and to concelebrate and attend church services together as prior to 1924. Rather, it appears as though the Athonite Community does not await the restoration of Orthodoxy and the condemnation of heresy, nor does it await the proclamation that the Orthodox Church is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church and the call for all to come to Her. The Community, it would rather seem, supports further regression. This may explain why it is trying to lead Esphigmenou astray as well.

While the Charter of Mount Athos is a human document, it is imbued with the centuries-long tradition of the Holy Mountain. At the same time, however, it is imperfect. The Charter is enforceable only when the Church is in peace. It provides no previsions for the possibility of the Patriarch’s and his Synod’s deviation from the Orthodox Faith. The Charter does not foresee a Patriarch falling into heresy and thus does not guide the monks as to what to do in such a case. By contrast, the Rudder of the Church does foresee such circumstances and does provide instructions as to what to do should those circumstances arise. It should be added that the Rudder’s publication was officially approved and endorsed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The Charter, moreover, has been violated many times by the Patriarchate and the Athonite Community. This begs the question: Why the double standard? We will not refer to the violations here as we do not want to give the appearance of the wronged protesters. What is true, however, is that in the case of Esphigmenou, the Charter has been repeatedly violated by both the Athonite Community and the Patriarchate of Constantinople. For according to the Charter, should an individual monk violate the articles of the Charter—be he even an Abbot—he is tried first by his monastery. How is it, then, possible for the Patriarchate or the Community to claim first jurisdiction, circumventing the proper jurisdiction of the individual monastery as explicitly mandated by the Charter?

The following questions arise: Which article of the Athonite Charter authorized the 1974 prosecution and sentencing of Esphigmenite monks? Which articles of the Charter authorized similar measures taken by the Ecumenical Patriarchate against an Abbot and three other superiors of Athonite Monasteries in 1994? These actions violated the first-tier juridical jurisdiction of the individual monasteries—a violation that does not even occur in secular courts!

Not only does the Athonite Community lack the jurisdiction to prosecute an entire monastery, but it is prohibited from discussing even correspondence regarding a monastery without the proper representation from the monastery in question. There are no regulations that warrant the prosecution of an entire monastic community or the summoning of individual monks to be tried first by the second-tier tribunal. Such proceedings are unacceptable. One must conclude that in using such logic, the three legal scholars—without realizing it—undermined the self-governance of each monastery.

Following the authors’ reasoning, should in the future Bartholomew sway the majority of the monasteries, an objection to an unreasonable demand, it stands to reason, would warrant the eviction of the entire dissenting brotherhood, or rather, its declaration as “schismatic” and then its eviction.

Do the authors seriously think that it is that easy to declare people “schismatic”, thereby serving the interests of the New Order and the New Age?

Indeed, if Esphigmenou’s struggle is labeled as a “rebellion”, then that label should be conferred to the Martyrs of the Holy Mountain who were massacred during the Patriarchate of John Bekkos as well as to the entire sanctified host of the confessors of the faith who suffered for the faith of the Fathers.       

The supervisory role of the Athonite Community is to focus its attention on cases where a monastery violates its internal regulations or the Charter of Mount Athos.

The Community’s refusal to recognize the lawful election of the Monastery’s Abbot and its superiors was not motivated by an alleged violation of Esphigmenou’s internal regulations or of the Charter, but rather in order to force Esphigmenou to unite with the heresy of Ecumenism. The Community does not have statutory authority to impede or hinder a monastery from struggling in word and deed on behalf of Orthodoxy and vital national issues as all that is sacred and holy is being threatened by the political leadership of Greece.

The Holy Monastery of Esphigmenou has remained faithful to the resolutions of the Council of Elders and according to the monastery’s internal regulations and the Charter of Mount Athos, as the election of new superiors in the place of the previous leadership was indeed lawful.

The Monasteries of Mount Athos are self-governing. The Athonite Community does not have the right to approve or disapprove the election of the Abbot or of the superiors. Its sole right is to review the procedures—whether the election was carried out according to the internal regulation and the Charter of Mount Athos. Similarly, the Patriarchate’s rights are limited to the right of notice of the election and its results.

Failing to fulfill its duty, the Athonite Community, to which had been sent all the necessary documents announcing the election of Esphigmenou’s Abbot, did not review the lawful election but rather through its silence gave up the Orthodox struggle against Ecumenism-Syncretism and the seal of the anti-Christ, forming an unholy alliance with these forces in order to receive its subsidies. In this way, the Community is working to displace the Orthodox mind-set of Esphigmenou so that it may follow the example of the “Orthodox” Patriarchates and thereby accelerate the advent of the unlawful one. What is at hand, then, is a clear and obvious persecution of Orthodoxy.

The authors of the legal brief allege that the current Abbot of Esphigmenou engages is proselytism. They then present the specific article of the Charter that forbids proselytism. What they fail to consider is that the Holy Mountain in its entirety, since its establishment, has confessed Orthodoxy both in stillness and in word, as needs of times dictated. Is it, then, proselytism to advise Christians distance themselves from heretics? If the three authors accept this premise, then in order to be consistent they must first condemn St. Gregory Palamas, St. Mark of Ephesus, St. Kosmas the Aitolian, and the Martyrs of the thirteenth century that resisted John Bekkos and Michael VIII Palaiologos.

The Charter, however, refers to those who actively pursue proselytism vis-à-vis a recognized heresy. By contrast, the Abbot of Esphigmenou, the Archimandrite Methodios, struggles on behalf of Orthodoxy, the Athonite traditions, and Greece. He struggles to preserve the Greek language against the aggressive enemies of the Greek nation. Not only is Fr. Methodios not a rebel worthy of chastisement, but rather deserves to be praised.

The legal brief doubts the legitimacy of the Monastery’s monks that, along with the brotherhoods of the Monastery’s dependencies, is numbered at 108 monks and 11 novices. Instead, the authors only recognize four, including the current Abbot Fr. Methodios. According to the authors, the rest of the brotherhood are neither monks nor Athonites! What is more, they do not recognize the priesthood and the ordination of the current Abbot. The legal brief was indeed bold, and will certainly have serious repercussions for the souls of its authors.

The Archimandrite Methodios is a canonically ordained Orthodox priest with full Apostolic Succession. His priesthood cannot be doubted neither by a legal brief nor by a Pan-Orthodox Council. He is a priest eternally. The Holy Spirit does not take back Its gifts. Moreover, the priesthood cannot be taken away not even by a canonical defrocking in that a defrocking is merely the permanent suspension of sacerdotal authority.

Ordinations on Mount Athos are performed through the proposal of the Abbot and the approval of a monastery’s Council of Elders. Next, a monastery may invite in writing any Hierarch of its choosing in order to perform the ordination. Thus, the ordination of Athonite priests is performed without any other approval. Should a monastery invite a bishop from outside of the Holy Mountain, then that bishop must receive the consent of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, according to the Charter.

Furthermore, each monastic tonsure that was performed at Esphigmenou was according to the requirements of Orthodox monasticism—that is, with the prescribed period of trial, with the witness of the entire brotherhood, with the prescribed tradition of taking the vows of the monastic schema before the holy sanctuary, and the rite of tonsure—and cannot be denied even by a Pan-Orthodox Council. Violently detaching these men from their repentance is an act of sacrilege, as the Lord will hold those who cast schema-monks out on the streets responsible on the Day of Judgment.

In all this there exists one contradiction. From 1924 to 1975, the Monastery of Vatopaidi followed the New Calendar for fifty-one years. Thus, as the rest of the Athonite Peninsula celebrated the feast day of St. Spyridon, Vatopaidi celebrated the Nativity of Christ along with the Latins. The same followed for all the immovable feasts.

The New Calendarist representative of Vatopaidi was never rejected by the Athonite Community for failing to conform to the rest of Mount Athos. Indeed, according to the customary order, a New Calendarist representative from the Monastery of Vatopaidi would receive the Consulship (Πρωτεπιστασία) every five years. Despite the fact that the issue was fundamentally religious in nature and disrupted the liturgical unity of the Holy Mountain, the Community tolerated Vatopaidi’s espousal of the calendar reform in respect for the monastery’s self-governance.

In the case of Esphigmenou, the Community showed no tolerance. Instead, they rejected the Monastery’s representatives. They froze Esphigmenou’s government subsidies that were given to the Monastery as compensation for the secularization of its property, calling for the intervention of a Patriarchal committee in order to force Esphigmenou to embrace the apostasy of Ecumenism—to commune with those who reject the uniqueness and singularity of the Orthodox Faith and who ally themselves with every possible demonic religion and heresy. Heresy, however, is alienation from God. For this reason, the fathers of Esphigmenou are fearful for the salvation of their souls and persevere—with the grace of God—every tribulation and ordeal.

In order to facilitate the eviction of the brotherhood, the authors of the legal brief claim that since the monks of Esphigmenou are not recorded in the General List of Monks (μοναχολόγιον) of the Athonite Community, they are neither Athonites, nor Esphigmenites, nor even monks! It will be a terrible day when tonsures are declared null and void because they were not recorded in the files of the Athonite Community’s General List of Monks. It is good, in principle, for such an archive to exist, but it is reproachable when, either by an honest mistake or on account of a deliberate refusal of communication between a monastery and the Community, a monk not recorded in the General List is denied his identity as an Athonite, an Esphigmenite, and even a monk.

What is important in such a case is a self-governing monastery’s List of Monks. Indeed, not even the Charter of Mount Athos has the right to nullify a monk’s tonsure performed in a self-governed monastery. What is important is the act of the tonsure that is performed in Church and the vows taken by the tonsured monk. No one may invalidate a monk’s identity as a monk—not even the monk himself.

We are confident, however, that the Abbots of the other Athonite monasteries will not fall prey to the misleading legal brief. It is a secular, legalistic composition that, we believe, may be categorically refuted by a competent lawyer.

At many points the authors of the legal brief, in order to justify their conclusions, transcend the Athonite Charter itself, claiming to interpret what the original writers had in mind but did not explicitly state. Indicative, however, of the authors’ methodology is their interpretation of the 15th Canon of the First-Second Council. They have overlooked the fact that the implementation of this canon undermines and refutes their entire argument. This, as the Ecumenical Patriarchate publicly advocates the heresy of Ecumenism in word, and in liturgical act at every chance. It advocates an Ecumenism that embraces not only heretics, but all religions.

In concluding our observations we must state that in the spiritual matters of Mount Athos, it is not possible for lay, secular lawyers to easily appreciate the complexity of matters and to give opinions. Indeed, such an interpretive undertaking requires the work of one’s faith and one’s conscience as opposed to exclusively the letter of the law.
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« Reply #15 on: June 03, 2008, 01:10:22 AM »

Please bear with me for a moment.
I am going to split this thread and send the original post and prayers to the Prayer forum.

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« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2008, 01:22:41 AM »

OK, I've split the thread.
For those wanting more information and background to the situation, I have added the tag "Esphigmenou" at the bottom of this thread which will take you to a list of other threads which have some more balanced information.
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« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2008, 01:32:33 AM »

That's actually what's debated. The EP is normally the overseer of the Holy Mountain. However, when a monastery refuses to commemorate the EP for reasons of faith, historically they've been left alone.  That has not been the case with ecumenism, where every monastery-- except Esphigmenou-- has had its brotherhood physically replaced.

BTW, I visited http://trueorthodox.tk which provides some of the perspectives raised in earlier posts and helps me understand why there are many Old Calenderist Orthodox Jurisdictions in the World.  I simply try to remain neutral as I try to understand the issues faced by both sides.

EDIT - Capitalizations and content changes
EDIT2 - Deleted scripture reference and questions which would have resulted in debate which is not welcome in the News forum
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« Reply #18 on: June 03, 2008, 02:11:20 AM »

EDIT2 - Deleted scripture reference and questions which would have resulted in debate which is not welcome in the News forum[/color]
Would people like me to move this to "Free For All" to allow debate?
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« Reply #19 on: June 03, 2008, 03:04:38 AM »

Roll Eyes Yeah..... Very helpul.....
I would have thought an Ass. Prof. would have more maturity.....
George,

You often see that in poor Greek translations... and there is no bad intention.

It is because the Patriarch is spoken of in Greek as O Kyrios Vartholomeos.

Now that word "Kyrios" can be translated as "Lord" but in modern Greek it is the same as "Mister." 

So in English you will see "Mister Bartholomew" for the Patriarch as well as "Mister Seraphim" for a Greek bishop.

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« Reply #20 on: June 03, 2008, 03:25:55 AM »

It is because the Patriarch is spoken of in Greek as O Kyrios Vartholomeos.
The Patriarch should be addressed as "Kyrios Kyrios", so even a bad translation should have read "Mister Mister".
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« Reply #21 on: June 03, 2008, 08:06:01 AM »

I wrote my own letter, I didn't like the examples much either.

Shall you now condemn 107 monks to death or homelessness for politics, when they have done nothing?

Homeless? Hardly. There are other monasteries in Greece for them. After 45 years of "resistance" - a nice tern for disobedience- what did they expect?
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« Reply #22 on: June 03, 2008, 09:28:16 AM »

Homeless? Hardly. There are other monasteries in Greece for them. After 45 years of "resistance" - a nice tern for disobedience- what did they expect?

Thank God they are being "disobedient."
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« Reply #23 on: June 03, 2008, 11:32:59 AM »

June 2, 2008

Police forces have shut down all roads leading to Esphigmenou monastery and are preparing to attack the monastery.

Two hundred SWAT Police in Karyes and others on the border of Athos close to Esphigmenou.

Attack expected to take place before Thurday, the feast of the Ascension and the monastery's feastday.

Whatever view you take of this conflict, pray that there will be no bloodshed.

For updated news.....

http://www.Esphigmenou.com



This is from the site quoted.

PLEASE CALL WEEKLY and fax often, these Greek officials who are responsible for, and can stop, the persecution of the monks, and ask that all rights of the Monastery be restored. Please continue to check back and do not stop your actions until this persecution stops.  Ask them to end the blockade, stop the State District Attorney's V. Florides Court harassment and intimidation trial of the monastery scheduled for November 2007 in Thessalonika's Criminal Court; ask them to disband the imposter Esphigmenou brotherhood of Archimandrite Chrysostomos Katsileris who has been empowered by Patriarch Bartholomew and the Greek Government to confiscate the monastery's bank accounts, food deliveries, vehicles, the retirement checks of monks, and engage in a host of other abominable actions unfit for men of the cloth, and unfit for men who call themselves Christians: CALL NOW, pick up the telephone and speak to them in English. Tell them, the World is watching. The European people, The Russian people and the authorities are watching, as well as the Americans, the English, the Australians, and countless others around the World are watching to see if Greek Justice has improved from the last Court Case of  the Thessalonika Court, where the evidence presented in Court, did not matter.  There is no need for any further embarrassing Greek Court Trials.
 
1
 Mr. Kostas Karamanlis
 Prime Minister of Greece   
 E-mail: ndpress1@nd.gr
 
   Private office tel: +30-210-338-5491  Fax: +30-210-323-8129     
2
 Ms. Dora Bakoyannis
 Foreign Minister   
 doraBakoyannis@mfa.gr
 
   Tel: +30-210-368-1800  Fax: +30-210-368-1433     
3
 Theodoros Kassimis
 Deputy Foreign Minister 
 E-mail: Theodoros@Kassimis.gr
 
 
 Tel: +30-210-368-2571
 Fax: +30-210-368-2410
 
 
4
 Vasilis Florides
 District Attorney     
 
 Telephone: +30-697-388-5888
 Fax: +30-2310-510-188
 
 
5
 Patriarch Bartholomew
 
 E-mail:  Patriarchate@ec-patr.org
 
   Tel: +90-212-635-4022 or +90-212-531-9670  Fax. +90-212-5349037 


If anyone familiar with this has any suggestions further on what to say in fax or email or phone call please post that.   
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« Reply #24 on: June 03, 2008, 11:59:50 AM »

Thank God they are being "disobedient."

Agreed.  Were it not for such 'disobedience' in the past we would've had Florence rammed down our throats centuries ago.  The EP should be ashamed of himself and will most certainly answer to his own 'Mister, Mister' for his actions.
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« Reply #25 on: June 03, 2008, 12:32:59 PM »

Would people like me to move this to "Free For All" to allow debate?

I would like to see such a move since I'd be curious to know why the Monks feel obligated to defy Civil Authorities and their own Hierarch.
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« Reply #26 on: June 03, 2008, 01:26:31 PM »

I have tried to follow the situation in Esphigmenou before & it is confusing (I am not seeking any input here) but it seems that the monks have legitimate standing. If I remember correctly, they had a large banner that read "Orthodoxy or death" and personally feel that they are a bit extreme. Nonetheless, they are of apostolic succession and a situation could arise (or has it already?) that like the prophets of old a voice that cries in the wilderness may have to be heard. When one sees the basic reviews of the EP's new book: Encountering the Mystery" one would perceive a somewhat "big tent" approach between Orthodoxy and non Orthodox; is this to the exclusion of bretheren who may seem obscurantist but not proven obstructionist? When one sees how the radical apostate fringe in the Episcopal church persecutes traditional Christians in that communion(See www.americananglican.org   one should take note. Lord have mercy.
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« Reply #27 on: June 03, 2008, 02:46:49 PM »

It should be noted that the Moscow Patriarchate has come out openly on the situation of Esphigmenou monastery, and Metropolitan Kyrill, Head of the Department of External Relations, wrote a strong letter to the Ecumenical Patriarchate on this issue, asking Constantinople to "abstain from irrational measures and the use of force."

“Kathimerini”  of Athens Greece, article published, December 31,
2006, in Greek, at

 http://news.kathimerini.gr/4dcgi/_w_articles_politics_633601_31/12/2006_210741


"In a move that Agioreite sources attribute to a wider Russian game of influence on Mount Athos, The Moscow Patriarchate, after being petitioned by the monks, is taking an unconcealed position in the dispute, cautioning the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate “to abstain  from irrational measures and the use of force.” In its letter, sent to the Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople [Istanbul], the powerful Metropolitan Kyrill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, responsible for the external relations of the Russian Church, for the Patriarchate of Moscow, expresses “anxiety because of the tensions which prevail regarding the Esphigmenou Monastery and threatens to evolve in a confrontation with the use of force, even to the point of its being stormed.”

"As an excuse for the intervention, in an issue, which clearly touches upon the spiritual responsibilities of Phanar, the Metropolitan of Smolensk references “a letter of archimandrite Methodios [the abbot of Esphigmenou Monastery] to the Most Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexis, to whom he complains about all the oppressive measures taken by the Civil Authorities of Mount Athos which threaten,” according to his opinion, “the existence of the Holy Monastery.” The most interesting of all in this initiative, according to the same sources, is an attempt by Moscow, indirectly but clearly, to connect the decision to expel from Mount Athos the monks of Esphigmenou, with the methodical attempt of the Phanar to displace the centuries old
Russian presence from Athos.

“…In Russia, also, this Monastery is very precious to us, because it is the place where the founder of Russian Monasticism, that is Saint Anthony (of the Kiev Caves) was tonsured a Monk. And on the other hand the events taking place now at the Sacred Monastery of Esphigmenou remind our faithful of the sad history of the last decade, when similar violent actions, in the Skete of Prophet Elias on the Holy Mountain [Editors note: in 1992 monks of Russian descent were expelled from there] which was built by the monks and their benefactors from Russia and which has now become unapproachable for Russian Monks” he characteristically notes."

The actual letter of Metropolitan Kirill (in Russian) can be found in the
Archives of the Moscow Patriarchate (online) at:

http://www.mospat.ru/index.php?mid=271
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« Reply #28 on: June 03, 2008, 03:02:01 PM »

If they were Moscow's  I wonder if that position would be the same.
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« Reply #29 on: June 03, 2008, 03:03:29 PM »

Thank God they are being "disobedient."

But, of course you have that opinion  Wink


{Sorry for successive posts- can't fix it now}
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« Reply #30 on: June 03, 2008, 03:05:05 PM »

But, of course you have that opinion  Wink


{Sorry for successive posts- can't fix it now}

But of course Wink
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« Reply #31 on: June 03, 2008, 03:05:59 PM »

If they were Moscow's  I wonder if that position would be the same.

Sr Maria (Stephanopoulos) comes to mind...of course, that was ten years ago, and maybe they changed their approach after that incident.
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« Reply #32 on: June 03, 2008, 03:07:40 PM »

It is just so sad. I don't know enough to have an opinion either way about whether the monks are "disobedient." I have only been Orthodox for about a month! But I would love to see this subject discussed more. I would love to see what everyone thinks and why.

But for now this entire situation brings tears to this hormonal mommies eyes. I do pray that there will not be any bloodshed.
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« Reply #33 on: June 03, 2008, 03:36:04 PM »

I have tried to follow the situation in Esphigmenou before & it is confusing (I am not seeking any input here) but it seems that the monks have legitimate standing. If I remember correctly, they had a large banner that read "Orthodoxy or death" and personally feel that they are a bit extreme. Nonetheless, they are of apostolic succession and a situation could arise (or has it already?) that like the prophets of old a voice that cries in the wilderness may have to be heard. When one sees the basic reviews of the EP's new book: Encountering the Mystery" one would perceive a somewhat "big tent" approach between Orthodoxy and non Orthodox; is this to the exclusion of bretheren who may seem obscurantist but not proven obstructionist? When one sees how the radical apostate fringe in the Episcopal church persecutes traditional Christians in that communion(See www.americananglican.org   one should take note. Lord have mercy.


You cannot equate what happens in the Episcopalian community to what happens in the Christian Church, the Orthodox Church.  The Episcopalians were borne out the depths of Henry VII's controversies and madness. 
The Eastern Orthodox Church was born on the original Pentecost.  The Church should never be compared to any man-made institution! 
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« Reply #34 on: June 03, 2008, 03:45:27 PM »


You cannot equate what happens in the Episcopalian community to what happens in the Christian Church, the Orthodox Church.  The Episcopalians were borne out the depths of Henry VII's controversies and madness. 
The Eastern Orthodox Church was born on the original Pentecost.  The Church should never be compared to any man-made institution! 
It was just a situational comparison and your assessment seems a  little narrow and I do not want to debate. If there is a possible lesson to be learned is it wrong to try to be observant?
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« Reply #35 on: June 03, 2008, 05:34:30 PM »

I don't support the way the monks are treated but I do agree that they should be evicted from the monastery since for the simple fact that the were disobedient to the Patriarch. If they break away from the Church, then they don't have the right to stay at the monastery.
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« Reply #36 on: June 03, 2008, 06:06:25 PM »


Background Information Links.

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/athonite_bartholomew.aspx


http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/athos_popevisit2006.aspx


http://www.orthodox.net/ecumenism/open-letter-of-censure-from-the-athonite-monks-to-ecumenical-patriarch-bartholomew-may1999.html

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« Reply #37 on: June 03, 2008, 07:50:10 PM »

I don't support the way the monks are treated but I do agree that they should be evicted from the monastery since for the simple fact that the were disobedient to the Patriarch. If they break away from the Church, then they don't have the right to stay at the monastery.

Agreed. I think the 200 police in full riot gear was too much (wtf? Were they afraid the monks had some Greek fire from 1,000 years ago?).
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« Reply #38 on: June 03, 2008, 08:00:51 PM »

Actually, I've been searching the Greek language Orthodox forums and blogs, and to date there has been no news about "200 riot police" preparing to storm Esphigmenou. I would have expected more talk of this by now. When the offices of Esphigmenou in Karyes were attacked, the nes spread within hours.
Could this be a false rumour? Even on OCnet, the "Chinese whispers" have caused one poster to raise the number of riot police involved to 600.
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« Reply #39 on: June 03, 2008, 08:29:56 PM »

It is possible that they are there to prevent our people from visiting the monastery on its feast day like last year when the police chased a group of Old Calendarists through the woods.
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« Reply #40 on: June 03, 2008, 08:37:48 PM »

I don't support the way the monks are treated but I do agree that they should be evicted from the monastery since for the simple fact that the were disobedient to the Patriarch. If they break away from the Church, then they don't have the right to stay at the monastery.

I find it surprising that so many people view this as a legal issue primarily. Do you think the Zographou fathers should have left the monastery during the time of Patriarch John (Bekkos)? Certainly they were being "disobedient" to the Patriarch.

Whether or not the monks are right (I obviously think they are right) what good does it do to kick them out? Who is going to take care of the monastery--the fake brotherhood they recently created?  The current monks are the ones taking care of the monastery, have been repairing it, have increased the number of the brotherhood. You are going to get rid of them and do what? What's the point? To prove that if you mess with the Patriarch, you get evicted? As if that is going to mean anything to Orthodox monks who (should) stand on principle. The actions of the patriarch are political and has nothing to do with Christianity and are pointless. Kicking those monks out is not going to win anyone over to Christ.
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« Reply #41 on: June 03, 2008, 09:19:25 PM »

I browsed through the Greek news sources on http://www.hri.org last night and today and didn't see anything related to Esphigmenou.  Even my favorite Greek paper, TA NEA, had no mention of Esphigmenou.

While there has been tension for years, I feel as if I've been duped.   Embarrassed

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« Reply #42 on: June 03, 2008, 09:29:11 PM »

I browsed through the Greek news sources on http://www.hri.org last night and today and didn't see anything related to Esphigmenou.  Even my favorite Greek paper, TA NEA, had no mention of Esphigmenou.

While there has been tension for years, I feel as if I've been duped.   Embarrassed



Why? Who knows what is going on. While I don't always trust esphigmenou.com for various personal reasons, I don't think they would just make this up out of the blue. I think in a few days we will know what is the scope and what happened. Maybe they are not storming the monastery after all...or maybe something else is going on. I would be patient until we have all the facts.
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« Reply #43 on: June 03, 2008, 09:37:42 PM »

Yes, it is quite strange that this is the only site talking about it. It seems like a fairly big issue. If it were made up, why? I guess we'll just have to wait and see. God willing, there will be no bloodshed.
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« Reply #44 on: June 03, 2008, 10:04:16 PM »


You cannot equate what happens in the Episcopalian community to what happens in the Christian Church, the Orthodox Church.  The Episcopalians were borne out the depths of Henry VII's controversies and madness. 

Erm..Sorry to butt in here, but there is a thread on the forum in which the causes of the Anglican Break from the Bishop of Rome is discussed.  Also, it occurred in the reign of Henry VIII; Henry VII was his father and the first of the Tudor kings.  It was not a case of "madness" but politics in which Rome, Spain and the Emperor Charles were involved, the question of a male heir and other factors.  Sigh.

Withdrawing now...

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