Court to try Esphigmenou monks for schism and heresy


Mt Athos, Greece , August 14, 2006 – The monks of the holy and sacred monastery of Esphigmenou of Mt. Athos have been served papers to appear in Greek Court in Thessaloniki, to be tried for Schism and Heresy.  The trial date has been set for September 29, 2006, in the Greek Government Criminal Court in Thessaloniki


The charge of schism and heresy by a government against its own citizens, has not been seen in modern European history.  That chapter of European history, where the Church accuses someone and then demands that the State apparatus move against them and confiscate their property unless they "repent", is coming back to life today in Greece.


The patriarch in Istanbul has leveled this baseless charge against the monks in order to confiscate their property and make an example to other Orthodox clergy who dare to question him.  The monks have a spiritual disagreement with the patriarch and have sought dialogue with him to clarify the Patriarch’s departure from Orthodox teachings.  Unlike western tradition, the Patriarch in the Orthodox Church is not infallible, and 23 Patriarchs have been deposed for heresy, some of them posthumously.


The Patriarch has refused any dialogue with the monks and has demanded their unconditional repentance rather than address their legitimate concerns regarding his teachings and practices which are in conflict with the teachings of the Orthodox Church.  Instead he has moved to evict the monks from the only home they know.


The Greek Government has shamefully acquiesced to pressure by the Patriarch to use force to blockade and evict the monks.  Greek Foreign Minister Ms. Dora Bakoyiannis, under whose ultimate authority Mt Athos resides, controls the apparatus of the Greek State in Mt. Athos , and it is under her ultimate authority that the blockade of food, medicine, heating oil, and medical care has been denied to the monks.  The Inquisition that the Greek Church was spared in the Middle Ages, is now being lived by the monks in modern day Greece


In an attempt to hide these actions against Esphigmenou monastery from public view, the Patriarch and his accomplices in the Greek government have established an imposter brotherhood, using the same name “Esphigmenou” and have begun to divert all mail, bank accounts and real estate belonging to the monastery to the new imposter brotherhood which they control.  This is done while the true brotherhood is blockaded in their monastery and prohibited by the Greek police and coast guard from receiving deliveries of food, heating oil, or visits from doctors to care for sick and elderly monks. The monastery’s tractor has been seized by the police to prevent the monks from growing their own food, and their telephone lines have been cut to prevent communication to the outside world.  Five monks have died without having received medical attention, as the police have physically prohibited doctors from entering the monastery to provide care. 


Recently, monks of the impostor brotherhood have seized land belonging to the besieged Monastery of Esphigmenou and have begun clearing the area to set foundations for building, thereby attempting to gain legitimacy for their brotherhood, claiming that they are on Esphigmenou Monastery land and that their false abbot, Chrysostomos Katsoulieries, can claim to be abbot.


For further information please contact:

John Rigas in USA - 617-524-4724