Voices from Russia

Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Actions of the Greek Authorities Against Igumen Ephrem Disgraced Orthodox Greece

The god-pleasing Abba Ephrem of Vatopedi (1955- ) sits in a prison cell… the bum-kissing American-puppet politicians sit scot-free in the Canaries… what’s WRONG with that picture?


The archpastors of the Local Church of Greece strongly criticised the decision by the Greek authorities to arrest Archimandrite Ephrem, the abbot of Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos. In the view of the Greek episcopate, the arrest of the well-known Athonite elder was only a trick by the authorities, who’re trying to cover up their crimes and to divert people’s attentions from the economic problems, thereby, dishonouring Orthodox Greece, RIA-Novosti reported. Last weekend, the cops arrested Archimandrite Ephrem on the orders of a Greek court, and confined him to his cell at the monastery, as the doctors with detected a viral infection, an aggravation of degenerative disc disease, and elevated blood sugar levels. The time limit on the enforcement of the warrant will expire on Monday afternoon.

On a broadcast of Skai TV, Metropolitan Nikolaos Hatzinikolaou of Mesogeia and Lavreotiki said, “I wondered… why should anyone consider [Igumen Ephrem] dangerous? Does he want to sell [the government] the lake a second time? Or, does he want to take the [Belt of the Most Holy Mother of God] and go with it to Russia, and never come back? You can’t see any logic in this decision by the court. I can see the intent in all of this. Firstly, they’re trying to cover the responsibility of those who brought us to the current tragic situation, and, secondly, to attack the concept of the Church in modern society by striking at the person of Fr Ephrem”.

Metropolitan Chrysostomos Sklifas of Patras believed that those who decided to arrest [Abba Ephrem] directed it against the Church itself. Romfea.gr quoted him as saying, “They struck at the credibility of the monks and the Church in a way that defied good-sense and religious feeling, especially during this holy season”. The Church of Greece celebrates Christmas on 25 December, but the Athonite monasteries, as well as Russia, continue to use the traditional Church calendar, and celebrate Christmas on 7 January. For his part, Metropolitan Andreas Trebelas of Dryinoupolis, Pogoniani, and Konitsa and Exarch  of Northern Epirus said, “These actions are mainly directed against the Church, and, of course, against Holy Mount Athos, to the delight of the Church’s opponents”. Vladyki Andreas pointed up that he didn’t know the exact content of the judicial decisions. Metropolitan Nikolaos Protopappas of Phthiotis stated, in his opinion, “The dark forces decided to strike at Athos”.

In an article on the site Romfea.gr, Metropolitan Pavlos Ioannou of Sisanion and Siatista wrote, in his opinion, the arrest of Igumen Ephrem was revelatory, as the police arrested none of the politicians responsible for numerous economic scandals. He said, “Was anyone arrested by the Greek judges for the ‘bubble’ on the stock exchange, for the bribes taken in the Siemens scandal, for the economic catastrophe in our country, for the international humiliation of its people? Finally, the Greek justice, albeit belatedly, found the guilty party, the one responsible for all the troubles… Igumen Ephrem”. Vladyki Pavlos related that with a bitter smile. Metropolitan Athanasios Nikolaou of LimassolAmathous, and Kourion, of the Local Church of Cyprus, supports Igumen Ephrem, who’s a native of Cyprus. Metropolitan Athanasios, who formerly was a member of the brotherhood of Vatopedi Monastery, said, “It seems that Greece has solved all its other problems, but, now, there’s a threat from Elder Ephrem”.

The First Hierarch of the Local Church of Greece, Archbishop Ieronymos Liapis,  Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, said earlier that although he wasn’t fully informed on the situation, however, he was “deeply concerned” by the arrest of [Igumen Ephrem] so close to Christmas. The Monastic Republic of Mount Athos isn’t under the omofor of the Church of Greece; nevertheless, it has close ties with it. The twenty ruling monasteries of Mount Athos are the under the EP’s canonical umbrella, which had no immediate comment on the situation. Greek television also cited in detail the negative comments from Russia concerning the arrest of Igumen Ephrem. For instance, the Foundation of St Andrew the First-Called, which sponsored the tour of the Vatopedi delegation with the Belt of the Most Holy Mother of God in Russia, said, “We believe that such actions can only be explained by the political perspective of certain circles in the Greek establishment, who wish to demonstrate to the West their willingness to deny the principles of spiritual life enshrined in the Greek constitution”. In response to this comment, an unnamed source in the Greek judiciary told Mega TV in Athens, “We must condemn the interference of third parties in Greek justice”.

Emilios Poligenis, the head of the Greek church news website Romfea.gr, told RIA-Novosti that, in the meantime, Fr Ephrem performs his monastic obedience in prison and carries out his priestly duties, saying, “Today, they brought his vestments to the prison, and, on Sunday, he’ll be able to serve in the prison chapel. The elder’s calm and in as good spirits as anyone can be in such trials. The prison authorities treat him very well. Whatever he needs, they give it to him”. He added that they allow Fr Ephrem to follow a special diet because of his diabetes. So far, [Abba Ephrem] doesn’t complain of any health problems, but he recently had a viral infection. According to Poligenis, Fr Ephrem didn’t resist his arrest, and he doesn’t comment on the progress of the case, referring his interlocutors to his lawyers. Metropolitan Nikolaos Hatzinikolaou of Mesogeia and Lavreotiki and Metropolitan Pavlos Tsaousoglou of Glyfada and Aexoni, of the Local Church of Greece, visited Igumen Ephrem in prison. The arrest of Igumen Ephrem provoked a series of protests in Greece and abroad. In particular, the RF MID and the MP expressed their concern over the detention of Fr Ephrem, and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all the Russias urged Greek President Karolos Papoulias to release him from imprisonment.

3 January 2012

Metropolitan Nikolaos Hatzinikolaou of Mesogeia and Lavreotiki




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