Greek High Court Expells Esfigmenou Monks

Greece’s highest court orders rebel monks out

By Karolos Grohmann

ATHENS, March 22 (Reuters) Greece’s highest administrative court has ordered a group of Orthodox monks, who reject efforts to rebuild ties with the Roman Catholic Church, to leave their 1,000 year old monastery, their lawyer said on Tuesday.

The Holy Community on a northern peninsula ordered the 100 monks at the Esfigmenou monastery, one of 20 on Mount Athos, to leave two years ago after a row over the Orthodox Patriarchate’s efforts to restore ties with Rome.

The monks refuse to acknowledge the authority of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos in Istanbul, the spiritual leader of the Orthodox Church, or his moves for closer ties with Rome. They have condemned Bartholomeos as a heretic and refused to leave their monastery, even after a brief siege.

They then lodged an appeal with the Council of State.

``Their appeal has been rejected. The eviction order stands,’’ the monks’ lawyer Ifigenia Kampsidou told Reuters after receiving the court’s decision.

Under Greece’s constitution, the Patriarchate has supreme spiritual authority over the semi autonomous Mount Athos region on a peninsula near the northern city of Thessaloniki.

Kampsidou said she had advised the monks to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights to allow them to stay at the monastery.

``I have advised them to do that as a next step to fight the eviction and stay in their monastery,’’ she said.

Father Methodios, the abbot of Esfigmenou, said the monks had not yet decided what to do next.

``We still have to officially receive the ruling so until then we cannot say anything specific,’’ he told Reuters.

The monks have been holed up inside the monastery for about two years, even after police ended a brief siege and threatened to arrest any monk who ventured out after the eviction order.

The Esfigmenou monks are considered the most radical in their opposition to Rome.

They refuse to recognise the authority of the Greek Orthodox Church and have refused to accept funds from the European Union to restore their monastery, unlike most other communities.

The northern Mount Athos peninsula, considered as Orthodox Christianity’s spiritual home from which all females are banned, is administered by an official appointed by Greece’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Irenicist

This is not too different from the (radical) Traditional groups in (or out of) the Catholic Church today. For example,
truecatholic.org/
and many others.

I would love to visit Athos, although I would not be popular there as a Latin priest. But I have heard the monks can be pretty mean and nasty.

Small correction here although it has big implications.

The Greek Court made no decision on the monks of Esphigmenou and did not order their eviction.

The Court excused itself and said it did not have legal jurisdiction in the matter.

Mt Athos is a bit of a legal nightmare. The Patriarch has ‘spiritual’ jurisdiction. The monks and monasteries have the right to self-government for everything except serious crimes which are handled by the Greek courts. The ‘foreign’ affairs and defence of Athos are handled by the Greek government.

Now if the Greek Court has declined tro make a ruling, that presumably means that the Greek government is also hamstrung and cannot send in Greek Police or the Army onto the peninsula to effect the Patriarch’s will.

Will the Patriarch descend on this monastery and singlehandedly evict the 90 monks who live there?

Personally, I think that although the Patriarch has a case, he would have been better advised to let the matter ride. It’s been going on for 30 years, so let it continue.

Patriarch Bartholomew sets off for Athos
with his wand of mass destruction

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/news/001030/konstpatr.jpg
Monastery of Esphigmenou, Mt Athos
http://www.exparter.gr/gr/agion_oros/agionoros/esfigmenou/esfigmenou2%20copy.jpg

[quote=cestusdei]I would love to visit Athos, although I would not be popular there as a Latin priest. But I have heard the monks can be pretty mean and nasty.
[/quote]

Go incognito. Don’t wear your cassock. Refrain from speaking Latin and handing out postcards of the Pope. :wink:

[quote=Fr Ambrose]Go incognito. Don’t wear your cassock. Refrain from speaking Latin and handing out postcards of the Pope. :wink:
[/quote]

That’s fine for him, but what can I do?
:smiley:

[quote=HagiaSophia]That’s fine for him, but what can I do?
:smiley:
[/quote]

Send me a photograph and I shall muse on possibilities. :slight_smile: More than one cheeky woman has manged to slip onto Athos dressed as a man.

Companies run luxury cruises for women. You can sip a Martini beside the pool while cruising past the beautiful monasteries on shore.

Here is Queen Elizabeth on Athos

and Madeleine Albright
disguised as a monk
but she was caught and roasted

Dear Father Ambrose,

Well, my husband and I had the best laugh of the
day, looking at the pictures of "Queen Elizabeth"
and “Madeleine Albright” !

I won’t consider a disguise until they install
escalators!

Maureen

Dear Father Ambrose,

Well, my husband and I had the best laugh of the
day, looking at the pictures of "Queen Elizabeth"
and “Madeleine Albright” !

I won’t consider a disguise until they install
escalators!

Maureen

:rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

Well if I ever get there as I depart, once safely aboard whatever conveyance I’m in I shall :wave:

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