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The papal envoy in Istanbul, otherwise known as Patriarch Bartholomew, continues his attacks on the Fathers of the Monastery of Esphigmenou on Mt. Athos.
On Wednesday, September 14, 2005, a group of pilgrims from Toronto met with Fr. Methodios, the abbot of the Esphigmenou Monastery. During this meeting he informed us that the Greek courts had given Patriarch Bartholomew the legal right to set up a parallel monastic establishment known as Esphigmenou.
This new group now has the legal authority to claim ownership of all the assets of the monastery. The purpose behind this tactic is to starve out the more than 100 novices and fathers of the Monastery. Fifteen of the fathers are over 80, three of theme over 100 and are bedridden.
In the last few weeks the persecution of the fathers has intensified but the Greek media turns a blind eye on what is happening. Two significant events have been totally ignored.
On Saturday, October 1, 2005, over 4,000 supporters of the Monastery, from all over Greece, assembled at Ouranoupolis, a town on the Mt. Athos border. Many of them left their homes on Friday evening and travelled all night in stormy weather. The rainfall was so severe in Northern Greece that the road to Ouranoupolis was washed out, trees were uprooted, power lines were down and one of the buses was stuck in the mud. About 10:00am, just as all the supporters were deciding to return to their homes, the rain stopped, the sun came out, 3 road machines came and repaired the road and all the buses and automobiles went on to Ouranopolis. Various representatives of Orthodox lay associations spoke. An official protest was signed by these representatives and given to the Greek government officials in Ouranoupolis. At about 2:30pm the supporters of the monastery boarded their buses to leave. Just at that time, the sun disappeared and the severe weather returned. All who were present were amazed and proclaimed that the Mother of God held back the weather. The Greek media busied itself with reporting labour union unrest, petty crimes and scandals. Not a word was said or written about the gathering of all these True Orthodox Christians and the severe weather which threatened them.
The hostility against the monastery was was also brought to light recently when two young men from the Cosmas of Aetolia Parish in Lanham, Maryland, went to visit the fathers at Esphigmenou. Mt. Athos now has roads and there is a bus service operated by some monks. The two young men boarded a bus and when the monk-bus driver learned that they were planning to visit the Esphigmenou Monastery, he made them leave the bus in the middle of no where. They began to walk on a fairly wide path, but ended up crawling under thorny bushes and brush, because the path disappeared. They wondered all night in the damp rainy weather surrounded by jackals. In the morning they were rescued by Greek authorities who were searching for them. This too was ignored by the Greek Media.
Please keep the fathers of the Esphigmenou Monastery in your prayers and inform others of their struggle.
I have uploaded two photos and an ikon which I found in one of the monasteries in Greece which shows the Church Under Attack by Heretics. If you are interested in seeing them and/or downloading them, go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hocna/, click on Photos and then click on Esphigmenou.
One of our parishioners has set up a web site which I believe you will find informative.
For more information also go to http://www.esphigmenou.com/.In Christ,+Fr. Panagiotes
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