EU requires Mt Athos to be equal access
- 2003.09.24 Washington Dispatch:
From The Washington Dispatch
Exclusive commentary by Paul M. Weyrich
Sep 24, 2003
When we hear about the Middle East, we frequently hear about the holy
places that are important to religious believers. Some date back to
beginning of recorded history. There are holy places that are
both the Old and New Testaments. This is true about Israel and what
become Palestine and now we hear the same thing about Iraq. There are
shrines that Muslims regard as extremely holy. Iraqi tradition holds
Iraq was the Garden of Eden, the paradise created by God for man.
Disobedience resulted in Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden.
Well, there is a holy place for some Christians, which is not as well
as those in the Middle East, but which has been understood as sacred
for more than one thousand years.
I am referring to Mt. Athos. This holy mountain for Orthodox
located on a peninsula in the northern part of Greece. It is occupied
by monks. In the Western church (mainly Roman Catholic) some monks
or do social work or other kinds of worldly activism. In the Eastern
Christian church (Orthodoxy) monks do only one thing. They pray.
Various groups of Orthodox monks pray day and night for the world,
people who are ill, for troubled marriages, for all sorts of
intentions. The fact that Mt. Athos is as little known as it is, is a
tribute to the fact that these monks have not injected themselves
politics. They have never sought publicity.
It is difficult to get to Mt. Athos. There are no motels or hotels on
Athos. Visitors live the way the monks live. They have tiny rooms
just a bed and a chair. There are no private bathrooms. The reason to
there is simply to pray. The Divine Office is followed so that there
prayer services many times during the day and night. Those monks who
priests serve what is known as the Divine Liturgy. In the Western
that service is known as the Mass.
Who could object to such an arrangement? The European Parliament,
who. You see Mt. Athos is all male. Only males who are monks can
there. Only males can visit.
That violates today's extremist ideology. That ideology demands that
never be separation between the sexes. No all-boy schools. Not even
choirs. Even in athletics there is a challenge to the male domination
The European Union, when it was formed, adopted a position against
discrimination of the sexes. But it granted an exemption to Mt. Athos
because of its special status as a holy place. Now, however, the
Parliament is in the process of reconsidering that exemption.
French (of course) Euro-deputy Fode Sylla has prepared a report
recommending the end to the exemption because Mt. Athos is "an
on women's human rights." The only negative votes were cast by the
Socialist government of Greece.
Think about this. Just because women can't visit Mt. Athos, it is an
infringement of women's human rights. See where this ideology has
us? Women have a fundamental right to go to a place where they have
been able to go for 1,000 years. It is the business of the Orthodox
if they want women or not. Just as in some Orthodox Jewish
women are not permitted. Remember the movie Yentil?
But no, not in this enlightened age. The European Union believes it
the right to interfere with tradition, values, symbols and even
faith. Mind you next, religions which do not have women ministers,
including Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and in the USA, for
Southern Baptists, will be judged guilty of discrimination. And in
course the UN will demand that these religions permit women to be
These religions will say that they cannot do so because they follow
Scriptures and it is clear that women did not minister in the Old
church and women were not selected by Christ to be his apostles in
Well then, the Bible will have to be eliminated as the basis of these
religions. The ideology against discrimination of women trumps all
else. It is more important than God's word. And why not? To the
who push this ideology, God is an outmoded concept meant only for the
I hope the Orthodox Church doesn't make any compromise on the Mt.
issue. What is the European Union going to do? Invade the monastery?
topography of Mt. Athos is such that any invading army would find
conquering the area extremely difficult. Perhaps the EU will do what
did under the leadership of Gen. Wesley Clark. Maybe the EU will bomb
holy shrines just as it did the holy sites of Orthodoxy in Serbia.
What does it matter if ancient churches are destroyed? Who cares if
are a few hundred dead monks? After all it is the ideology that is
important. You see sovereignty does matter. The more EU nations cede
authority to the EU, the more they will be confronted with
But it may end up costing them. The Swedes said no to the Euro last
week. Even Tony Blair's government is skeptical about the European
No, I believe if the Greek Orthodox Church and the Greek government
firm it will be the EU that will fold. The majority of Euro-deputies
not believe in God, but in the end I believe they will be fearful of
confrontation with God's church. Most of these deputies are not
atheists. They are agnostics. Which means they just aren't sure.
Better not risk it.
Paul M. Weyrich is Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation .
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