Moscow, December 29, 2011
"It is my duty to convey our common concern to the chief of the Greek state and to request the release from custody of Archimandrite Ephrem, superior of the Mount Athos Vatopedi Monastery," says the message posted on the Russian Orthodox Church website.
Patriarch Kirill said he was very worried about the custody of Archimandrite Ephrem.
"I do not question the powers of the Greek law enforcement officials and express hope for a fair and impartial decision regarding the property of the Vatopedi Monastery. However, I am perplexed by the custody of the monk, who is not a danger to society and has repeatedly expressed readiness to cooperate with detectives, prior to the court hearing of the case merits," he said.
Patriarch Kirill said he was particularly concerned about Archimandrite Ephrem's ill health, which was ignored in taking him into custody.
"In Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and other countries, whose peoples are the traditional flock of the Russian Orthodox Church, millions of believers are alarmed by the police measures taken as regards the hegemon of the famous Athos monastery well-known to the entire Orthodox world on the days Orthodox Greece celebrates Christmas," he said.
Father Ephrem was accompanying the Belt of the Virgin Mary in Russia for more than one month in fall. Approximately three million believers worshiped the holy object from Athos in that period.