Greece, July 24, 2020
Greek authorities have begun the confiscation of properties owned by the Athonite monastery of Esphigmenou, evicting a number of monks living at dependencies in Greece.
On July 8, the Greek Supreme Court issued a final order on the legal issue surrounding Esphigmenou Monastery that had dragged on for years through a number of appeals and other delays. The brotherhood of Esphigmenou has been out of communion with the rest of Mt. Athos and all Local Orthodox Churches for decades in protest of the ecumenistic practices of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and other Orthodox Churches.
As the constitution and statutes of the Holy Mountain prohibit monastic cohabitation with the heterodox or schismatics, the Court obliged the brotherhood to finally hand over all the “occupied territories” both on and outside of Mt. Athos to the new Esphigmenou brotherhood founded by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 2005. The new brotherhood lives in Karyes, the capital of Mt. Athos, having no historical connection to Esphigmenou Monastery.
Yesterday, July 23, police officers arrived at the monastery’s dependencies in Ierissos on the peninsula of Chalkidiki, near Mt. Athos, and in Nea Roda, 70 miles southeast of Thessaloniki, and forced the monks to leave, reports ethnos.gr.
The brotherhood of new Esphigmenou issued a statement announcing that it now possesses the properties and contending that the monks of Esphigmenou have nothing to do with Mt. Athos. They also stated that the monks of the schismatic brotherhood “looted the facilities” a few days beforehand, “leaving behind the image of a scorched earth.”
Meanwhile, the inhabitants of Esphigmenou Monastery say that on July 23, “three monks of the new pseudo-brotherhood of Esphigmenou … seized property in Ierissos from the historical Esphigmenou, which numbers 100 monks.”
The monks also state that “the seizure of European and national funds of Mt. Athos, bank accounts, real estate in Athens and Thessaloniki, tractors, vehicles, and everything that was a source of income for our brotherhood (numbering 110 monks), will be able to feed the three modest monks, full of Christian love, of the new pseudo-Esphigmenou,” and, “if that is not enough for them, then just take our souls.”