25 May, 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
GREECE - RUSSIA
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
07/14/2005 HOLY LAND – ISRAEL – PALESTINE
Palestinian National Authority recognises removal of Irineos
by Arieh Cohen
06/14/2006 HOLY LAND
Help Palestinian population, put aside violence and unilateral solutions
09/08/2006 CHINA
Sichuan: Tibetan abbot arrested without charge

Editor's choices
ASIA
Vigil for persecuted Christians, our teachers in the mission in the West
by Bernardo CervelleraThe "wall of indifference and cynicism" and the silence and apathy so often denounced by Pope Francis have become almost a fortress. Such persecution reflects confessional manipulation, which slams Islam as such, and ideological manipulation, which forgets what is happening in North Korea or China. An increasingly post-Christian Europe seems disinterested in Christians.
RUSSIA – CHINA
Moscow Patriarchate: China authorises the ordination of Chinese Orthodox priests on its territory
by Marta AllevatoMetropolitan Hilarion, the Moscow Patriarchate’s ‘foreign minister’, made the announcement after a visit to China where he met the leaders of the State Administration for Religious Affairs. The first priest should serve in Harbin. Two more ordinations are expected. With a new Cold War as the background, the Moscow-Beijing strategic alliance also has a Church connection with the People's Republic recognising the latter’s 'political' role in Russia.
VATICAN
Pope: We and the four new saints, witnesses of the Resurrection "where forgetfulness of God and human disorientation are most evident "Francis proclaims four religious sisters saints: one French, one Italian, two Palestinians: Maria Alfonsina Danil Ghattas, the foundress of the Sisters of the Rosary, and the Carmelite Maria of Crucified Jesus (nee Maria Bawardy). Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority present. "Abiding in Christ" and cultivating “unity among us" are essential signs of witness. Maria Bawardy, "instrument of encounter and communion with the Muslim world".

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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.