Monk is accused of stealing relics from monastery's grave
- 2005.09.02 The Times:
September 02, 2005
Monk is accused of stealing relics from monastery's graves
From John Carr in Athens
A GREEK Orthodox monk awaiting trial on corruption charges is alleged to
have plundered the ecclesiastical relics he sold on the black market from
his own monastery.
Archimandrite Iakovos Yiossakis is accused of digging up the relics from
tombs beneath the floor of the monastery on the island of Kythera, off the
southern coast of Greece.
A judicial report into the allegations alleges that the monk, with unnamed
accomplices, opened the graves of at least three clergymen and removed gold
and silver ornaments from the human remains. Investigators said that they
had found evidence of the desecration.
Archimandrite Yiossakis was arrested in February to face charges related to
the illegal sale of sacred icons. He had previously served as a priest
ministering to Greek-Americans in Chicago, some of whom said that he had
embezzled an undetermined amount of money while there.
The judicial report also said that he had ties with a trial-fixing ring
made up of senior judges, several of whom have been dismissed from the
The allegations are the latest to rock the ancient Greek Orthodox Church,
which is revered by a majority of Greeks as the repository of the nation's
Archimandrite Yiossakis's alleged misdeeds came to light last winter when
reporters began to uncover evidence. The trail led to Metropolitan
Panteleimon, the Bishop of Attica, who was defrocked last month after a
six-month suspension for corruption and bribing judges. Also under
suspension is Metropolitan Theoklitos, the former Bishop of Thessaly, who
proved unable to answer charges that he frequented a nightclub in civilian
clothes and turned a blind eye to drug trafficking.
The head of the Church, Archbishop Christodoulos, has so far fended off any
suggestion that his own entourage could be involved in the sleaze by
promising to crack down on corruption. His own position was briefly shaken
last February when some bishops said that he knew of the corruption but did
nothing about it. Once outspoken on most subjects, Archbishop Christodoulos
has for the last six months assumed a lower profile.
Apostolos Vavylis, another former monk, is being held in Italy on charges
of drug trafficking. Reports in Greece suggest that he acted as an agent
for Archbishop Christodoulos to engineer the election of the controversial
Patriarch Ireniaos as head of the Jerusalem Orthodox Patriarchate in 2001.
Three months ago Patriarch Irenaios was formally deposed after being
accused of illegally selling property in Jerusalem to Israeli interests.