Reprinted from the National Herald, Wednesday, April 17, 1991
[Boston] Following almost two years from the day that our newspaper uncovered (N.H. 6-5/6-89) the “extra ecclesiastical and improper” movements and activities of the Mt. Athos monk Ephraim to the Omogeneia* which, among others, include groups of extra-ecclesiastical organizations, purchase of property, in specific at the location “Poconos” of Pennsylvania with intent to establish monasteries, confessions at people’s homes, etc., we uncover today that the monk Ephraim resigned from the position of abbot in the Philotheou monastery of Mt. Athos and has united with the Russian “church” of America. This “church” is considered “non-existent” to the Ecumenical Orthodoxy, that is, it does not have any blessed society or any relation to the Orthodox Patriarchate and the self-sustained churches. That’s why nowhere is it referenced basically because it is considered divisive.
After communicating with the representative of the “church” in question, “bishop” Mr. Ilarion confirmed our information that monk Ephraim on March 4 signed the agreement with that church and now belongs to their “jurisdiction.” In addition, Ilarion stated that a few days ago he informed by letter the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The N.H. is in a position and knows that up to the point that this article is written, that is, Tuesday, April 18, that letter has not reached the Patriarchate, but the Patriarchate knows of the situation. In accordance always with the “bishop” Mr. Ilarion, the monk Ephraim at this moment is in Greece and is expected to return to America in the next few weeks. His purpose is to establish monasteries, something that Mr. Ilarion confirmed, and in addition, in cities with organized Greek communities, such as is in New York, Boston, Pittsburgh. With the excuse of confessions, he will create parishes, and other extra-ecclesiastical organizations which means breaking up the Omogenia. Ephraim is planning to expand his activities in Canada where he has already created a home base by forming extra-ecclesiastical organizations. The Russians wish to pay special attention to Astoria and for that fact, they are planning to establish “parishes” so that the followers of Ephraim can gather and reinforce the flock of the Cathedral of St. Demetrios.
We would like to remind you that Ephraim already, since 1984, has created in Astoria a home base since he is “the elder” of the extra-ecclesiastical organization “Panaghia Glykofilousa” which, as a matter of fact, maintains a store of religious items with the same name. According to a communication with today’s president of the above organization, Mr. Theodore Kalokathis confirmed that Ephraim is the spiritual father of the organization; however, he stated that he was not aware that Ephraim has united with the Russians although he knew that Ephraim resigned from the monastery Philotheou of Mt. Athos. Unfortunately, we were not able to communicate with Ephraim himself.
Break Up – Secret Meeting
According to information that our newspaper has obtained, Ephraim is planning to bring about 15 monks and some female novices who will become nuns. As a matter of fact, a few months ago, he has brought some of these “female novices” with him to visit a building in Pittsburgh, which the novices decided was not appropriate. We will take this opportunity to mention that Ephraim is always accompanied by his subservient monk Savvas, a medical doctor by profession.
The Ephraim Phenomenon
About 10 years ago the monk Ephraim started visiting the United States and Canada with the excuse at first of therapy for his leg and later to have confessions with those he has been “spiritually connected.” Most of the times, he came without the proper ecclesiastical permission from the Archdiocese using the sneaky way of the “stolen permit” as follows: He would come into Canada first and then he would enter the United States to Astoria by choice, and later he would appear at the Archdiocese, placing the Archbishop Mr. Iakovos in a difficult position who, however, showed him love and affection, but at the same time, always reminded him of his omission [of asking for a permit]. The proper thing for the Archbishop would have been to have rejected him, and this way he would have observed the penalties required by the rules of the Church. “For jumping in and performing inappropriate parish activities not in accordance with the regional bishop.” Fr. Ephraim whom some followers consider a “spiritual and proper person” had his long-term plans, as are now confirmed by his actions, and that’s why he made sure he obtained a green card of permanent residence (N.H. 6-5/6-89 interview) while he was still the abbot of Philotheou monastery at Mt. Athos. During the time he was “healing,” he promised to stay at the monastery until his last breath and not to end up staying in America nine months and only three months in the place of his tonsure.
When his plans were uncovered in June 1989, such as purchase of land for monasteries, extra-ecclesiastical organizations, unauthorized meetings, and barricades, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is his religious authority since Mt. Athos reports to the Patriarchate, asked Ephraim to return immediately to Mt. Athos and provide the Patriarchate with the required explanations. Ephraim went to the Patriarchate and kneeling pleaded for forgiveness from the Patriarch and reported that everything has stopped, and that’s how he escaped a defrocking. During his interview on June 6, 1989, among other things, he mentioned “I made a mistake and I repent.” In answer to our question “Does the fact that you could have been the reason to break up the Church here scare you?” he answered in his own words: “No, I will never do this. Even if I lose my blood I will defend the Church. I respect the Archbishop, and I love him as well as all the clergy. I prefer to leave 1000 times and not have something like that happen which will not happen….”
However, what we see with the development of things today Mr. Ephraim simply was playing games with us; he pretended to have repented while at the same time he was making agreements with the Russians. As a matter of fact, some followers of his offered to defend him with paid advertisements. Here I shall mention Mr. George Dimopoulos (N.H. June 19, 1989) who at the time was the president of the “Astoria Brotherhood of Panaghia Glykofilousa” and who was also threatening “further actions,” and also mention the names of Demetrios and Angeliki Voutsouri (N.H. June 23). Just symptomatically, let’s ask what happened between Mr. Dimopoulos and Panaghia Glykofilousa?
The ever memorable Metropolitan of Stavroupolis Maximos mediated by letter with Archbishop Mr. Iakovos to have him accept the monk Ephraim and tell him to establish a monastery for the Archdiocese. The Archbishop, again responding with superiority and forebearance, accepted him (monk Ephraim) in his office; as a matter of fact, he took him to the St. Basil Academy where he showed him the location for a monastery and told him he has his complete cooperation, to the point that he asked Ephraim to make the plan and present it to him. All financial expenses would have been assumed in whole by the Archdiocese; however, no such thing happened because Ephraim had his own direction already planned which finally led him to the Russian extremists.
Repentance or Defrocking
To the point that this monk Ephraim has led this situation, there are only two solutions: first, to declare repentance and no association with the Russians and remain within the Mt. Athos practicing obedience with some penalty that the Patriarchate will specify (as an example not to leave the place where he belongs for 10 years), and second, defrocking him and returning him to the laity so that others can use this example and all those that carry the same mind as Ephraim who with their actions become the reason for break-up of truth and the unity of the Church. The Omogenia is not a vineyard without a fence. It has some ecclesiastical and some “national” boundaries which Ephraim did not respect, and that is why he became one with the rest of the high-handed gang of all types of “magicians” and those who meet in secrecy. That’s all for today, and we will be back.
* Omogenia=native born or fellow Greeks