Appeals court sentences Esphigmenou abbot to 17 years in jail

Thessaloniki, April 19, 2019

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Just days after news came that the brotherhood of Esphigmenou Monastery on Mt. Athos had been found guilty and sentenced for continual fraud against the Greek state, a Thessaloniki appeals court has handed down a sentence of 17-years’ imprisonment and a fine of $675 (600 euros) for the abbot Fr. Methodios (Papalamprakopoulos) for his involvement in a 2013 Molotov cocktail attack against riot police, reports Romfea.

Another monk received the same sentence, while another six were sentenced to 9 years and 5 months.

Abbot Methodios and Monk Antipas, the main instigators, were originally sentenced to 20 years in 2017 and the other monks to 10 years and 4 months, though those sentences were appealed.

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 has long taken a stand against the ecumenical activities of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, though it has gone beyond the canonical practice of non-commemoration and has broken communion not only with Constantinople and the rest of the Holy Mountain, but with the entirety of the Orthodox Church.

A new Esphigmenou brotherhood was created by Constantinople in 2005, which has responded to the Thessaloniki court’s decision: The [New] Esphigmenou Monastery faces the development calmly, and prays to God to grant wisdom and prudence to those responsible for the illegal occupation, in order to bring this paradoxical and anti-monastic situation to an end, peacefully and without unnecessary and impassable rivalries. Their tendency to hostility is the reason for the current penalties.”

The new brotherhood also writes that it looks forward to being able to take up residence in the ancient Esphigmenou Monastery, where its precious relics are kept.

As an unrecognized brotherhood, the monks are not eligible to receive the tax breaks that the other Athonite fathers do, and thus they were found guilty of frauding the state.

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