Moscow, January 30, 2017
Eight monks of Esphigmenou Monastery, one of the twenty ruling monasteries on Mt. Athos, including abbot Methodios (Papalamprakopoulos), received jail sentences on Friday from a Thessaloniki Mixed Jury Criminal Court, reports Mystagogy.
The monks were charged with instigating violence and throwing Molotov cocktails at police officers in an incident in July 2013 in the Athonite capital of Karyes. Abbot Methodios and monk Antypas, the main aggressor, both received twenty-year sentences, effective immediately. The other six monks were charged as accomplices, receiving sentences of ten years and four months which are being appealed.
Esphigmenou Monastery has been in schism from the rest of the Holy Mountain, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the rest of the Orthodox World for many years, in protest against the ecumenistic activity of the Patriarch of Constantinople with the Catholic Church, and others. Unfortunately their zeal against errors on the left has led them into the error on the right, unlike the rest of the Holy Mountain which has not departed from the one Church of Christ.
The incident in question occurred when court bailiffs arrived to the Esphigmenou administrative offices in Karyes on July 29, 2013 to evict the schismatic monks, who responded by throwing three Molotov cocktails and an explosive device. “Esphigmenou monastery is our home; we will die there,” one of the monks told the court, according to The Associated Press.
A statement released by a new Esphigmenou brotherhood, established in 2005, reads: “The decision, of the courts, which is enforceable immediately for the first two, gives the measure of common sense. Namely that one thing is the confession of faith and another the use of explosives and the committing of serious crimes. The spiritual disagreements and other denials of the rules of the Holy Mountain and the state are another thing.
Meanwhile, Alkiviadis Grigoriadis, lawyer for the defendants, said the dispute was over religious dogma and should not “under any circumstances” be settled in court.
Addressing itself to the remaining old Esphigmenou brotherhood, the new continues: “The fraternity and administration of the monastery are willing to embrace every brother who would come with good intentions and to make every effort for restoration. We can all contribute calmly and without fanaticism to bring an end to the lingering futile and hopeless occupation of the monastery premises.”