5 October, 2015 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile

mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato

e-mail this to a friend printable version

» 04/02/2012
Mount Athos abbot released on bail as tensions with Russia continue
by Nina Achmatova
Vatopedi monastery Hegumen Ephrem is released after three months under house arrest. He is suspected in an illegal land sale. The case highlights tensions between Moscow and Athens. Putin might visit Mount Athos for Easter.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Hegumen (Abbot) Ephrem of the Vatopedi monastery was recently released on bail. He had been under house arrest since 26 December on tax fraud charges. Greek news agencies reported that the court agreed with the defence that he did not pose a threat to society, and dropped preventive measures against him. The judges however set bail at 300,000 Euros, ordering the archimandrite not to leave the monastery or Greek territory.

A group of faithful, monks and some representatives of the St Andrew the First-Called Foundation welcomed the abbot after his release. The archimandrite and the Russian Orthodox foundation had brought the Holy Belt of the Virgin to Russia last year. The whole affair can be blamed on his close ties to Moscow and the expansionist goals of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate towards Mount Athos.

The Vatopedi is considered the "aristocracy" of Mount Athos. It is certainly the largest and most important monastery on the Holy Mountain, and falls under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

In late December, Greek police arrested the hegumen in compliance with a decision by the Court of Appeal in Athens. He was under investigation because of a land sale in 2008 that penalised Greece's tax authority.

The case made the headlines not only because of Ephrem's advanced age and poor health, but also because it is unusual to see the Orthodox Church involved in such a case given its privileged status. In fact, Mount Athos exercises a high degree of autonomy, something the European Union would like to limit, this according to some.

Ephrem is a prominent individual who over time forged important ties with politicians and business people inside and outside of Greece.

He has for example developed contacts with Russian authorities and the Moscow Patriarchate, which he was able to do in part thanks to the historic rivalry between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, as some sources in the latter lament.

Just a month before his arrest, the prior brought the famous relic of the Virgin's belt on a tour of Russia, where it was seen by 3 million pilgrims.

This helped the Russian government at a time of sharp loss in public support just before upcoming elections, as well as Ephrem, sources in Constantinople said, because investigators were already closing in on him.

As Greece prepares to go to the early polls in May, some reports indicate that newly re-elected Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Vatopedi for Orthodox Easter, which falls on 15 April this year.

e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
01/10/2012 RUSSIA - GREECE
Abbot of Mount Athos arrested. War of influence between Moscow and the Ecumenical Patriarchate
by Nina Achmatova
04/24/2013 HOLY LAND
Interfaith treaty, a turning point in Christian-Muslim relations, says Jerusalem bishop
Palestinian National Authority recognises removal of Irineos
by Arieh Cohen
06/14/2006 HOLY LAND
Help Palestinian population, put aside violence and unilateral solutions
03/14/2007 ITALY – RUSSIA
More than business behind Putin’s visit to Italy
by Maurizio d'Orlando

Editor's choices
Pope in the US: “We Christians, the Lord’s disciples, ask the families of the world to help us”In the last Mass of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, Francis Pope highlights the daily "little gestures" that define the family, which is “the right place for faith to become life, and life to become faith". Gratitude, respect, and collaboration with families in which the Spirit operates can be found in every “family, people, region, or religion”.
Pope in the US: Without the family, the Church would not existFrancis met bishops gathered in Philadelphia for the eighth World Meeting of Families. “We might well ask whether in our pastoral ministry we are ready to ‘waste’ time with families. Whether we are ready to be present to them, sharing their difficulties and joys.” Young generations should not be blamed if they grew up with distorted values. “As pastors,” we must extend “a sincere invitation to young people to be brave and to opt for marriage and the family.”
As the pope’s visit to Cuba raises hopes, a sclerotic regime exploits it
by Tony Pino V.*As soon as he landed in Cuba, Pope Francis issued a message of faith, peace, forgiveness, reconciliation, compassion, and mercy, urging people to be child-like. As the regime conducts picture-perfect parades, ordinary Cubans pray to Our Lady of El Cobre asking for help to leave the island to live elsewhere. The US embargo has been an excuse to stifle dissent and development. So far, Cuban leaders have not done any ‘mea culpa’.


Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.