July 31, 2013

20 Disturbing Facts About the Esphigmenou Occupation Issue

Hieromonk Ephraim, after being attacked by the illegal occupants of Esphigmenou Monastery

1. The brotherhood residing in the historic Monastery of Esphigmenou is schismatic. Not because it observes the Old Calendar, but because it is NOT in communion with any other Orthodox Church or Patriarchate. Thus, apart from merely having ceased to commemorate the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Monastery has also broken off its communion with all the other Monasteries of the Holy Mountain, as well as with all the Orthodox Churches, whereas it has acceded to a full and ecclesiastical communion with one of the so-called "GOC" (Genuine Orthodox Church) groups, which, let it be noted, have no ecclesiastical communion - not even among themselves. Since then, and to this day, no one is accepted for residence in the Monastery, unless they accept the ecclesiastical communion exclusively with that group, while others are persecuted.

2. Other predominant Monasteries have also interrupted the commemoration of the Patriarch at times and are cautious about the future, however, none of them has ever interrupted ecclesiastical communion nor has any ever acceded to an ecclesiastical communion with outside ecclesiastical groups - and of course none of them has ever been persecuted. On the Holy Mountain there are other zealot monks, who however live peacefully in their cells, without disturbing the Canonicity and the Statutes of the Holy Mountain.

3. The Constitution and the Statutes of the Holy Mountain prohibit monastic cohabitation with heterodox or schismatics.

4. In order for the reader to understand what "schismatic" means, let him note that the illegal occupants of Esphigmenou Monastery regard all of us [canonical Orthodox Christians] as unbaptized and heretics, who have been infected by the heresy of ecumenism. These "unfortunate" occupants have the same opinion about the Elders Paisios and Porphyrios and Iakovos. These occupants aren't even Hagiorites! The Sacred Community has, since 1974, been striving to secure decisions for the expulsion of the Abbot and the Committee members of the Monastery, who have thereafter lost their identity as Hagiorite monks. It was they who had scorned the decisions of the Sacred Community.

5. For thirty-nine whole years, the schismatics have been exploiting the tolerance of the Hagiorite Fathers, in order to gain recognition.

6. The illegal occupancy of Esphigmenou Monastery, apart from being an ecclesiastical problem, is also a NATIONAL one, because if it were permitted for every Monastery to excise itself from the Sacred Community, then it would be quite plausible for them to invoke reasons of faith, or conscience, or national reasons, etc., to excise their Monasteries and to accede unhindered to other ecclesiastical or national jurisdictions, with catastrophic consequences for the Holy Mountain, the Church, and the territorial sovereignty of our land. If the prohibition of cohabitation with heterodox and schismatics on the Holy Mountain were to be recognized as an offence to one's religious freedom, then soon after, we will also see the establishment of Papist monasteries and Protestant organizations on that Holy Ground.

7. Of course they are not persecuted for not condescending to accept European funds (as they continually tout), because even if they wanted to accept those funds, they would not be eligible because they do not have the right to administrate anything in the name of the Monastery that they are illegally occupying. Subsequently, their supposed "heroism in not accepting European funds" becomes incredibly absurd and mendacious, when its ulterior motive is to arouse feelings of sympathy and admiration among the unsuspecting, for their controversial asceticism, which is proven even more self-discrediting if one were to consider the very respectable influx of Drachmas, Euros and Dollars pouring into the Monastery for the group's needs for propaganda, for publicity, for court procedures, etc., while these individuals have retroactively cashed in (and then continue to illegally demand) the annual State funding in the Monastery's name.

8. The matter is rendered even more controversial and a mockery, when one considers how these supposed "anti-Europeanists" have - through their supporters - already addressed the Human Rights Committee in Geneva, the Political Committee of the European Commonwealth in Brussels and Luxembourg, the International Union of Legists in Milan, etc., while also threatening to appeal to the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg, thus stirring up the "Franco-Latins" (as they call them) against the Holy Mountain and our homeland.

10. The illegal occupants not only obstruct the officers of law and order from entering the space of the Monastery; even the 10th Supervisory Committee for Byzantine Antiquities has filed a suit against them, because they did not even allow the archaeologists to enter the Monastery.

11. The illegal occupants are not the "poor innocent guys" they strive to present themselves as in the Mass Media.

12. The Second Magistrates Court of Thessaloniki had sentenced on 8/3/2012 the "ringleaders" of the illegal occupancy of the Representative Sector of the Esphigmenou Monastery at Karyes of the Holy Mountain, to 29 months imprisonment with reprieve, for possession and use of weapons, dangerous bodily harm and simple bodily harm to members of the Monastery's new Brotherhood. It specifically tried the familiar case of the attack on the Representative Sector of the Esphigmenou Monastery in December of 2006, which had drawn the attention of the Press. The brotherhood of the Monastery hopes and prays that the aforementioned sentence will prove to be helpful, both for the awareness of those severely sentenced, as well as for the active response of the officials in finally freeing both the (illegally occupied) Representative Sector as well as the much-afflicted Monastery. Fanaticism and illegal occupancy cannot have a future.

13. The "poor innocent" monks have striven to calumniate our homeland at an international level. They have resorted to European (aka "Frankish" and "satanic", per their own claims) courts, when they themselves accuse the Holy Mountain of being "Europe-lovers". They have appealed to courts with arguments which - if they were ever to be accepted - would bring catastrophic consequences for the entire Holy Mountain (including Esphigmenou Monastery of course).

14. Abbot Methodios does not even have Priesthood. Athanasios had been canonically chosen and enthroned, and Euthymios - from 1975 up until 1999 - had at least been ordained by a hierarch with canonical ecclesiastical communion. On the contrary, the present "abbot" Methodios does not even have that!

15. Their propaganda claiming "persecution" caught on; given that it was illegal for them to ask for special "residence visas" in the name of the Monastery, they claimed this as "forbidden entry" for their pilgrims; the tax exemption for imported goods was referred to as "deprivation of fuel for winter" - even though the Monastery burns wood; the "no entry" designated for vehicles entering the Holy Mountain was conveyed as the obstruction of trucks bringing food supplies and subsequently condemning them to die of starvation; they speak of "confiscation of the Monastery's properties", of "financial strangulation", of "frozen bank accounts" upon being asked a simple question - all these being entirely unfounded and inconceivable. They also spoke along the same lines - and in fact overseas - about "their water and electricity supply being cut off" (the first claim being entirely inconceivable and the second simply amusing, given that there is no electricity supply on the Holy Mountain.) Even the observance of laws pertaining to the very sensitive issue of vessels approaching the Holy Mountain by sea - for which the Hagiorites have struggled many years to safeguard - has been referred to as "a blockade from the sea". They have demonstrated everywhere, with every opportunity, that they are in danger of starving to death (while elsewhere, they claim to have food supplies for two years); that they ask for doctors and medicines but the Greek government refuses to supply them (when this has never happened and has been claimed it will never happen, whereas on the contrary, by "incarcerating" elders and the sick, they themselves are putting their health and their lives at risk):

16. a) By having acceded to a specific group of Old Calendarists, the illegal occupants therefore no longer commemorate the Patriarch. Then again, there are also many other zealots on the Holy Mountain who are not persecuted by the Patriarch or by the State because of their faith!

17. b) They cannot collect any funds from the European Union, because they cannot administrate the Monastery's documents and data, which they are illegally holding.

18. c) They are not being persecuted, given that they are living absolutely unrestrained, doing literally whatever they please, and totally indifferent to the Laws of the State - and of the Holy Mountain, thus putting its status quo at risk.

19. d) They delight in concocting "persecutions" and police brutality - as they had done last September, when they had stated to all the Media that SWAT teams had come up to the Mountain to drive them out. This piece of news was a thorough lie. But they did the same thing in December of 2006, when they had cracked the skull of Fr. Ephraim! In fact, the photo of Fr. Ephraim (shown above) circulated over the Internet as "evidence" of the illegal occupants' persecution, with the claim that the wounded Priest-Monk was a member of the schismatics.

20. e) The illegal occupants have no communion with any of the other Hagiorite Monasteries.

Source: Translation by OODEGR and edited by John Sanidopoulos.