Moscow, June 28, 2017
Two local Greek Cypriot families have accused Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol, Abbot Epiphanios of Machairas Monastery, and the Cypriot Orthodox Church of pushing their sons into monasticism, suing them for a sum of 2 million euros ($2,271,200) as compensation for “moral damages,” reports Russian Athens.
The judicial process, unusual for Orthodox countries, is set to begin on Thursday.
Machairas Monastery is an historic monastery dedicated to the Entrance of the Theotokos Into the Temple, located about 25 miles from the capital city of Nicosia. It was founded at the end of the 12th century close to the current village of Lazanias.
The clergymen gradually came into the life of a now-44-year-old monk’s life in 2002, affecting his development, and alienating him from his family, the mother who initially brought the case claims. “They resolutely opposed us, and he stopped being himself and became their follower,” the mother laments.
According to the mother’s testimony, her then 28-year-old son was “strong, energetic, and outgoing, with many interests; he was bohemian, with a sense of humor, a people person; he loved boxing, hunting, shooting, and diving.”
“He didn’t have anything to do with religion, and he was in serious relationship with a girl whom he was planning to marry. All of this changed, however, when the elder [Met. Athanasios] came into his life. My son began to confess and commune every week,” the sorrowful mother recalls.
Five years later, in 2007, the son declared that he was leaving his doctoral program and becoming a monk. The mother is accusing Met. Athanasios of not listening to her complaints and not trying to dissuade her son from his decision. Instead, the hierarch replied that her son is already an adult, able to decide for himself what to do with his life.
Another woman has joined in the same case, whose son also became a monk at Machairas. Both mothers accuse the monastery of “brainwashing” their sons, which they believe is proven by a talk the metropolitan had with monks of the monastery. The women are in possession of a video recording in which the metropolitan speaks about having a “holy contempt” for themselves and for their former lives, and not communicating with their parents, which, seemingly unbeknownst to them, is a traditional monastic spiritual practice.
Tomorrow’s case is reminiscent of events surrounding St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, AZ in the early 2000s. Fox News KVOA TV 4 in Tucson aired a segment on February 9, 2006, no longer available online, which featured three sets of parents who were similarly upset that their sons had abandoned the pursuit of earthly glory in order to offer their lives to Christ in monasticism.
One of the monks, Fr. Theologos Pantanizopoulos was blessed to post a response online, after his parents continually slandered the monastery and their son’s new life. In his testimonial he recounts why he became a monk, stating, “It was God's hand guiding me from the way that I was that led me to monasticism. If you could have seen me then... “