FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
According to Abbott Methodius, "Our role is to dedicate our lives to praying for the souls of our fellow man and for the world. Our battle is for truth, and the true orthodox way of life, which the patriarch is attempting to silence. The blockade of our food supplies and the eviction is not just unchristian, it is wrong."
The monks at the largest and most historic Esphigmenou monastery on
Blockaded on land by Greek, European Union Police, and at sea by the Coast Guard, the monks can no longer pray for peace unless they accept the patriarch's political version of the orthodox faith.
What the monks really protest is not dialogue with other Christian denominations but the acceptance of an unreformed reconciliation among Christian churches, creating a church with a diverse and conflicting set of beliefs.
Patriarch cherishes loyalty to himself over fastidiousness to Orthodox Church
teachings. "Rather than teaching the faith, he compromises the faith.
Instead of persuading others to come to the truth of Orthodoxy, he persecutes
those who disagree with his own personal truth," said Methodius.
"The use of force to accept the faith is a concept that is totally alien to
The Orthodox Church. It is not just his teachings, but his actions which
are unorthodox, and we cannot accept this" said Methodius.
Among other things, the Patriarch now accepts the baptism of any Christian church as a valid Orthodox baptism. Anyone wanting to join The Orthodox Church from any other denomination no longer needs to be baptized. This is an example of a fundamental change in beliefs that the monks, and many other faithful Orthodox Christians do not accept. Patriarch Bartholomew is creating a new church and a new belief system that bears less resemblance to Orthodoxy with each passing day.
The Patriarch also teaches contrary to the Nicene Creed, the bedrock foundation of the faith. "The church teaches us that there is "One baptism' and 'One holy Catholic and
According to professor George Metallinos of the
heresy of the Roman Catholic church can only be lifted by another ecumenical synod, and cannot be done by any one individual in the church, Patriarch or otherwise. The Patriarch can only enforce church law, not his own personal beliefs.
is not above the law and has no authority to re-create the faith.
The targeting of Esphigmenou monastery, send a chill to the rest of the Orthodox on Holy Mountain, and has been expanded by the Patriarch to now seek out and evict any individual monk located on Mount Athos that does not agree with him on these issues. Anyone at all, that does not accept his "spiritual protection." In the past two weeks, eviction orders have also been issued to monks living in sketes dependent on Pantocrator and Great Laura Monasteries, also on
Neither the Greek constitution, nor any Greek law gives the Patriarch, a Turkish citizen, legal authority over the monastery in
The humble monks of Esphigmenou live a life of spiritual and monastic tranquility in the unbroken tradition of the brotherhood that has occupied the monastery for over a thousand years. Their ascetic life is widely respected on the holy mountain.
At a news conference on Monday, January 27, in
The Patriarch has not responded to the monks call for dialogue.
The eviction process is being challenged in the courts. A legal adviser to the monks, Ifigenia Kamtsidou, said the monks were not given an opportunity to respond before the eviction order was issued. "Constitutional procedures were not upheld," Kamtsidou said.
Clutching his knotted prayer rope in his hand, Abbott Methodius vowed to appeal this to a higher authority. "We will fight with our prayer ropes." Methodius said.
The Monastery's library houses 372 original Christian manuscripts codices and 8,000 books some dating back to the 4th Century. The treasury includes numerous religious articles such as rare 13th Century mosaic icons and relics of saints. For over a thousand years the monastery has provided a place of prayer and peace for those who chose the monastic life. It is now threatened with extinction.
For further information please contact:
John Rigas, tel: 001-617-524-4724, fax (617) 524-7142