The custody decision against a clergyman renowned world wide for his charitable work and spiritual mission a few days before Christmas comes to add to the woes which befell the country as a result of the gloomy political and financial conditions. Needless to say no one has so far been accused or found guilty or imprisoned for the country’s degradation! It was only yesterday that the Vice President of the government, E. Venizelos told the plenary of the House of Representatives that any investigation into money laundering in Switzerland on behalf of Mps constitutes a mockery since ‘anyone can set up an offshore company rather than keeping a personal account’.
Deep down no one wants to remember those who confessed that they had accepted bribes from Siemens, which they either put in their pockets (as in the Manteli case) or in the party coffers (as in the Tsoukatou case). Yet justice and the political system have found a monk as a target for their purging; a monk whom for a long time they hold hostage to political intrigue without any evidence as to his personal involvement in any issue under investigation. In this indescribable Greek reality show, monk Ephrem is judged as ‘likely to leave the country’ and is remanded into custody. Yes, during the entire time of his judicial ordeal, this ‘likely to leave’ monk has visited several countries and gave 48 presentations. Recently he even visited Moscow at the invitation of the Russian President and the Prime Minister. At the end of these visits, Elder Ephrem always returned to his country and his monastery even though he suspected that the outcome of this whole process might be regrettable.
Elder Ephrem of Vatopaidi is therefore accused of financial machinations, him that once returned from Russia, gave away all the money he had gathered from donations (made by the faithful venerating the Holy shrine: “the belt of the Virgin” during his recent pilgrimage to Russia) to the Greek dioceses and a philanthropic canteen from the cities of Thessaloniki and Athens, to help the suffering believers due to Greece’ recent economic crisis.
Abbot Father Ephraim received the unexpected news with Christian love and deep faith in the divine providence. He appeared ready to comply with any provision of the authorities, including preventive detention. Elder Ephrem addressing to his monastic community of Vatopaidi, had asked the fathers of Vatopaidi to receive these news with spiritual eyes and not to condemn those who accuse him, and to continue their religious asceticism in unity, love and harmony.