The fathers of Esphigmenou struggle against the heresy of ecumenism which states that there is no one church which possesses the Truth.  The Orthodox Church believes, as the monks of Esphigmenou Monastery believe, that the Church has never lost the Truth or its unity. The Nicene Creed states the Orthodox Church’s dogmatic basis, “I believe in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.  I believe in one baptism.”  Ecumenism rejects these fundamental truths of the church by teaching that there are many churches and many baptisms.

The beliefs of ecumenism and the beliefs of Orthodoxy are mutually exclusive.  You can either believe in the Creed or you can believe in ecumenism, not both.  By embracing ecumenism Patriarch Bartholomew has embraced a belief in conflict with the teachings of the Orthodox Church.  This is what the monks object to and what they wish to discuss with the Patriarch.  There is not a single saint of the Church, ever, who believes in what Patriarch Bartholomew teaches and practices with regards to ecumenism, and this has caused great concern on the part of the monks.  The Patriarch refuses to allay those concerns and refuses to engage in constructive dialogue with the monks. He has, however, demanded an apology in writing for questioning him.  


Chronology of events from 1924-1974  A short background that takes you back to the roots of today's disagreement.  Read this and you will be up to date on how this situation came to pass.  Also are answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

History of dispute 1972- 2002 A brief history of the dispute, adapted from an article in the Greek language, Kathimerini newspaper.

The present day situation Brief summary of the current dispute.



Protest Letters written by University Professors



Open letter by Abbott Methodios of Esphigmenou to Mt. Athos Monasteries (See original Greek document with an English translation) Ellhnika.  Written on September 22, 2005, this letter asks the monks of the other monasteries of Mount Athos to consider the ramifications of their hostile actions toward a fellow brotherhood.


A Rejoinder by the Brotherhood of the Monastery of Esphigmenou  This open letter from the monastery recounts the history of the dispute and explains their position.  It was written in September 2002.


Ellhnika The History of the persecution of Esphigmenou Monastery by Abbott Methodios (See original Greek document with an English translation).  Written on October 20, 2005, the Abbott describes the history of the struggle of his monastery against the unprecedented persecution of the Esphigmenou brotherhood.


Statement from Esphigmenou Monastery  Written on December 25, 2002, it refutes the Patriarchate's incorrect and uncanonical finding that the monks are schismatics.  "The Patriarchate of Constantinople has resolved and made decisions from its place of authority failing, however, to recognize the fact that Synodal resolutions must conform to and comply with the Holy Canons of the Orthodox Church in order for them to have any legitimacy and force."



Letter to Patriarch Bartholomew from the ENTIRE Mt. Athos community regarding the Balamand Agreement

December 8, 1993. The monks of all 20 Mt. Athos monasteries wrote this letter to the Patriarch asking for an explanation for the Balamand agreement which they found IN CONFLICT with the teachings of the Orthodox Church.  The Patriarch to this day has refused to respond.


Open letter from the ENTIRE Mt Athos community to Patriarch Bartholomew  

May 24, 1999.  In this document, all 20 monasteries of Mt. Athos question and criticize the statements of the Patriarch regarding the Roman Catholic Church. Instead of answering the questions posed by all 20 of the Mt. Athos monasteries, the Patriarch instead avoided the issue and in an unchristian like manner scolded the Abbotts of Mt. Athos and demanded they ask for forgiveness on bended knee. Under threats by the Patriarch, all the Abbotts of Mt. Athos asked for forgiveness, except Esphigmenou, who stood by the document, and still awaits a response from the Patriarch on the substance of the letter.


The 15th Canon of the First-Second Council OBLIGATES the monks to take the action they have taken, of ceasing to commemorate a bishop, until an ecumenical synod can be convened to clarify the matter.  This has been confirmed by the esteemed University of Athens, School of Theology professor, George Metallinos who said “The monks are obligated under the 15th Cannon of the First-Second Ecumenical Synod to cease commemoration of the Patriarch."  Fr. John Romanides and Fr. George Florovsky, two of the most esteemed and respected orthodox theologians of the 20th Century also share this opinion.”


Letter of Elder Sabbas, a revered spiritual father, renowned on Mt. Athos for his Holiness  

August 1991  Elder writes a letter pointing out serious problems with Patriarchate.


Patriarchal Encyclical 1848, a reply to the Epistle of Pope Pius IX  

The Patriarchates of Constantinople, Jerusalem and Antioch proclaim the Truth of the Orthodox Church and criticize the innovations of the Roman Catholic Church which has caused it to deviate from Christianity and the True Church.


Patriarchal Encyclical 1895, a reply to the Papal Encyclical of Pope Leo XII 

In this document the Patriarchate outlines basic requirements for what is necessary for union with the Roman Catholic Church.  These requirements are based on the teachings of the Orthodox Church.  This is something that Esphigmenou continues to support TODAY.



Sadly, it is not just food and medicine the Patriarch seeks to deny the monks.  In a particularly insidious move, Patriarch Bartholomew has pressured the Greek government and local authorities to create an imposter monastery with the same name, Esphigmenou, in order to transfer all property, divert mail, and transfer bank accounts to his new creation, while he starves the real monastery of Esphigmenou.  This shadow brotherhood violates the legal charter of Mount Athos in that the brotherhood and the new abbot do not meet the qualifications set forth in the charter.  It marks a new low in the Patriarch’s attempt to rid his critics. 


The Greek Government has done nothing to protect the rights of the Esphigmenou monks who are Greek citizens, but rather is willingly used as the private police of the Patriarch.  Rather than refuse to acknowledge this illegal creation, and stopping this shocking perpetration of identity theft against an entire monastery, the Greek Government does the bidding of the illegal imposter monastery and acquiesces to its immoral requests - see documents below:


Ellhnika Imposter monastery directs Post Office to seize  Esphigmenou mail (See original Greek document along with an English translation) 

On September 22, 2005, the imposter monastery requested that all mail addressed to Esphigmenou monastery be redirected to them instead of to the true Esphigmenou monastery.  Shamefully, the Post Office like the rest of the Greek Authorities under the absolute authority of Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyiannis, have acquiesced to this request.


Ellhnika Imposter monastery directs Greek Coast Guard to seize Esphigmenou boat (See Original document along with an English translation)  On October 27, 2005, the imposter monastery requests the Port Authority to interdict the boat used by the true Esphigmenou Monastery, which they were forced to acquire in order to bring food and medicine to their monastery.  The true monastery of Esphigmenou had to get a boat because they have been refused use of, or access to, the ferry boats and overland vehicles which supply Mount Athos.  Shamefully, the Port Authority and the Greek Coast guard, like the rest of the Greek Authorities under the absolute authority of Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyiannis, have acquiesced to this request.