January 3, 2011
Hierarchs of the Orthodox Church of Greece express their indignation against the arrest of Archimandrite Ephraim, abbot of Vatopedi Monastery, Mt. Athos.
The hierarchs of the Greek Orthodox Church have sharply criticized the decision by the Greek government to arrest of the abbot of Vatopedi Monastery, Archimandrite Ephraim. In the opinion of the Greek archpastors, by arresting a sick Athonite elder, the government is trying to hide its own economic crimes and transfer the problems from a “sick head to a healthy one”, and in this way they only bring shame upon Orthodox Greece, reports RIA Novosti.
Archimandrite Ephraim was held the weekend before last at the decision of the Greek judiciary and was under house arrest in his monastery cell. The doctors diagnosed him with a viral infection, acute osteochondrosis, and high blood sugar. His arrest warrant ran out on Monday.
“I see here only design. Firstly, to hide the responsibility of those who have brought us to our current tragic state; and secondly, to strike a blow not only at the personality of Fr. Ephraim, but also at the image of the Church in modern life,” the Metropolitan added.
Metropolitan Chrysostom of Patras considers that the decision to arrest Fr. Ephraim is directed at the Church itself.
“They are striking against the authority of monks and the Church by this, and their action is a challenge against common sense and religious sensibility, especially during these days (Christmas)”, said the Metropolitan, who was cited by the religious news website, Romfea.gr. Orthodox Greece celebrates the Nativity of Christ on December 25, but Mt. Athos, like Russia, lives according the Julian Calender, according to which the feast falls on January 7 by civil reckoning.
“These actions are directed mainly against the Church, and of course, against the Holy Mountain of Athos, to the great joy of the Church’s enemies”, Metropolitan Andreas of Dryinoupolis, Pogoniani and Konitsa announced, admitting that he does not know the exact content of the judicial decision.
Metropolitan Nikolaos of Phthiotis said that in his opinion, “Dark forces have decided to strike at Mt. Athos.”
Metropolitan Pavlos of Sissanion and Siatista said in an article on Romfea.Gr that in his opinion, the arrest of Abbot Ephraim is indicative, while none of the others responsible for a multitude of economic scandals were arrested.
“Who did the Greek government arrest for the “bubble in the market”, for the bribe taken from Siemens Corp., for the economic catastrophe in our country and the international mockery of her people? … Finally, Greek law has found, albeit late, the one who is guilty for all our problems: Abbot Ephraim,” Metropolitan Pavlos said with bitter irony.
Abbot Ephraim, who was born on Cyprus, was also supported by Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol (Orthodox Church of Cyprus). “You get the impression that they have solved all the other problems in Greece, and now the only danger is coming from Elder Ephraim,” said Metropolitan Athanasios, who was once a monk of Vatopedi Monastery.
His Beatitude Hieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece and Primate of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece, announced earlier that he is not fully informed, but nevertheless he is “deeply concerned” about the arrest of the abbot on the Christmas holiday. Mt. Athos is not under the jurisdiction of the Church of Greece, although it has very close ties with it. The twenty monasteries on Mt. Athos are under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which so far has made no comment on the situation.
Greek television stations also cited in detail the negative commentary from Russia with regard to Abbot Ephraim’s arrest. The St. Andrew Fund, which organized the visit of the Cincture of the Mother of God to Russia, announced: “We consider that such judicial decisions could be explained only by the political commitments of certain circles in the Greek establishment, who want in this way to demonstrate to the West their readiness to deny the principles of spiritual life that are fixed in the Greek constitution.”
In answer to that unsolicited commentary, a source in the judicial organs of Greece announced to the Mega television channel: “Interference by third countries in Greek legal processes deserves condemnation.”
Meanwhile, the arrested Fr. Ephraim is getting ready to continue his monastic service in prison and fulfill his priestly duties, reported the head of the religion news agency, Romfea.gr, Emilios Poligenis, to RIA Novosti. “Today they have brought vestments to the prison, and Sunday he will be able to serve in the prison church,” he noted.
“The elder is at peace and in a good mood, as much as one can be under such trials,” said Poligenis. “He is being treated very well in the prison. He is being given everything he needs.” The agency chief also added that Fr. Ephraim has been permitted a special diet since he has diabetes. The arrested archimandrite is not complaining, although he recently suffered a viral infection.
In the words of Poligenis, Fr. Ephraim is not disputing his arrest and does not comment on the procedures, leaving that to his lawyers. Two hierarchs of the Church of Greece have already visited the abbot in prison—Metropolitan Nikolaos of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki, and Metropolitan Pavlos of Glyfada.
Abbot Ephraim’s arrest has drawn a number of protests in Greece and abroad. In part, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Rusian Orthodox Church have expressed their concern over the arrest, and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has addressed President Karolos Papoulias of Greece with a request for the abbot’s release.
From: «Русская линия»
I hope to get your email, Your Eminence. I would like to visit when I am in Greece to talk with you. I also am involved in the states in Hospice. I can't find your email nor the phone number of your Metropolis. I will be arriving in Greece on August 2nd. Would love to have your blessing and meet with you. Maybe you will remember me I worked many years ago in the library at Hellenic College/Holy Cross. May our Lord send more people like you to preach, teach and liturgize. Axios.