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In 2002, the Patriarchate sponsored 3 experts to draft a paper describing the situation at Esphigmenou and to recommend a course of action. This report arbitrarily disregards the Charter of Mount Athos and the church cannons in an attempt to incriminate the monks of Esphigmenou, threatening the very essence and survival of the region by trampling on the autonomy enjoyed of Monasteries for 1,000 years. The prosecutions legal brief places blame on the Esphigmenou fathers on the grounds that:
a) the Esphigmenou monks ceased commemorating the Patriarch,
b) the Monastery’s failed to comply with the Patriarchal committee’s and the Mt. Athos Community’s 1974 and 1979 exile sentences, and
c) the Monastery’s refused to participate in the institutions of the Mt. Athos Community through representatives.
The commemoration of the Patriarch and his Synod is an extremely important matter for which one must take into consideration, both the Mt. Athos Charter, and the Rudder of the Orthodox Church. The regulations that are inscribed in the Rudder have been promulgated by the Holy Apostles and the Fathers of the Church through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and are therefore immutable. What is more, one must take into account the centuries-long tradition of the Holy Mountain.
We cannot enumerate all the erroneous views and deeds of the last three Patriarchs here. It should suffice to say, however, that instead of being corrected, these views and deeds continuously multiply. We will refer to only a few actions of the current Patriarch that alienate him from the Orthodox Faith.
a. The unilateral “lifting” of the anathema against the Roman Catholic Church in 1965.
b. The agreement of Balamand, signed by representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, stating that “the Orthodox Church along with the Papal community have the same Apostolic Succession and the same validity in their mysteries”, represents a deviation from the Orthodox Faith.
c. The Patriarch Bartholomew referring to the representatives of the Pope on November 30, 1998 said : “In view of the fact that one Church recognizes the other Church as a locus of Grace, proselytization of members from one Church to the other is precluded.” (See Εκκλησιαστική Αλήθεια, December 12, 1998) This implies that it is not necessary to preach since we are really one and the same faith”.
Why are the monks being evicted?
Mainly one reason – they refuse to commemorate the Patriarch and as a show to others not to dare dispute with the Patriarchate. Evidence of this is seen today, where bishops can say and do anything contrary to the church teachings and get away with it as long as they continue to commemorate the Patriarch. The monks struggle is for truth and the true orthodox way of life which the Patriarch is attempting to silence. The Cannons of the Church require monks and others to cease commemoration if their Bishop preaches beliefs that go against the teachings of the church. The monks are well within their right to do this as have many other Greek, Serbian, Russian and Orthodox Churches today.
What is the impact of being called “schismatic”?
Unlike the Great Schism of 1054 where there were fundamental differences of faith. The Patriarchate and others now use this declaration as an extortionary tool to force people to obey him – not on matters of faith. Some examples:
Over 25 churches in Australia have been declared schismatic, for the simple reason that they did not sign over the deed from their church community to the Patriarchate.