The Persecution of Athonite Monasticism (Geronda Nikodemos, Abbot of Philotheou Monastery, 2012)

NOTE: According to Robert W. Allison, who is responsible for the The Philotheou Monastery Project, “Out of deference to the wishes of the Holy Fathers of Philotheou Monastery, the publication of research work related to the monastery and under the Monastery’s name has been removed from the World Wide Web. The Monastery continues to support the project, and together we look forward to publication of much of this work in the near future. I, personally, am understanding of their wishes, and deeply appreciative of their long support for this work.” This may be the reason that not too much current, up-to-date information on Philotheou can be found on the internet. This article is from February 4, 2012:

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“It is true that along with the general crisis afflicting our Greece—and this especially worries us—a great sadness additionally flooded our hearts when we learned about the injustice against the Reverend Abbot of Vatopaidi Monastery, Archimandrite Ephraim, and against our Holy Church and Mount Athos through his person,” he notes.

“The Manner of Imprisonment and Unsubstantiated Charges”

“For the first time in modern history, an Athonite Abbot is imprisoned in a flamboyant manner for absurd and unsubstantiated charges. Anyone having a mind can easily interpret this,” says the Athonite abbot.

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“The Persecution of Athonite Monasticism”

Then the abbot spoke about Geronda Ephraim’s innocence and characterized the “fabricated scandal” case.

“It is obvious and known to all that Geronda Ephraim is innocent, but he was imprisoned for other reasons. Also, it is obvious that on the pretext of clarifying the alleged and manufactured “scandal” of Vatopaidi Monastery, they attempted a more open persecution, meanness and disdain of Athonite monasticism, and the Church more generally, both of which are the only refuge for the fearful suffering and humanly unprotected and betrayed Nation.”

“We learned that the EDE exercised towards Police Officers who were ordered to capture the Abbot on Christmas Eve, in the self-governed Monastic State of Mount Athos. They didn’t arrest him that same day, but rather three days later and indeed with an escort of dozens of armed police as if he was some well-known and dangerous criminal.”

“The fury is deserving doubt, as also the late by certain organs of the Greek Justice against the Holy Abbot, against Vatopaidi Monastery, and against the Holy Mountain. It is the repayment and gratitude for this Monastery’s—and generally Mt. Athos—to the Nation.”

“Here, I dare to bring to my mind the words of the Doxastikon of Vespers for the Taking Down from the Cross: ‘Oh! How the lawless Synagogue condemned … to death, without shame as they recalled benefits with which had protected them…etc.’”

“We pray our Panagia strengthens the beloved Abbot with much patience, and of course, the Lord, ‘will with the temptation also make a way to escape.’”

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“These Actions are not appropriate on Mount Athos”

The Archimandrite is particularly regarding the attitude of the State towards Mount Athos, saying, “I think that the State’s reckless and extreme actions are inappropriate on Mount Athos. Since its creation, the Holy Mountain had and desires to have good cooperation with the State. Unfortunately, the State recently picked another road which, to date, we do not know who suggested to play a worldwide politico-religious game based on the Orthodox Holy Mountain.”

“In the State’s attempt to find a scapegoat to grease itself, it lost the “equilibrium” and the measure—it departed from the royal road. As Orthodox Christians, it is natural to wonder if perhaps Organs of the Vatican—which admits that Mount Athos is an obstacle to its ecumenical plans—participated in this entire situation. The Vatican is experienced in such methodologies (as we know from past and present history),” he said categorically, explaining that the Holy Monasteries are accused via “inside information” of alleged enrichment and opulence.

“However, no benevolent pilgrims of Mount Athos have ascertained and expressed such views; precisely because they are not correct.”

“Despite the effects of a faltering modern society, the Holy Mountain continues to be a place of repentance, prayer and offering. It continues and will continue, by God’s Grace and the Protection of the Directress Lady Theotokos, to carry out its purpose for the Monks themselves and for its pilgrims from the ends of the earth.”

“Anyhow, whatever happens in these difficult times, God’s people do not run to politicians for help, but rather to the Metropolises and Monasteries, just as occurred during all the difficult moments our Nation passed through—and those weren’t a few.”

“No Matter How Much They Slander Us, We Will Remain Steadfast in the Truth”

Concluding, the Athonite Abbot said, “But the Lord God lives and is with us until the end of the age.”

“Whatever arises, no matter how much they slander us, threaten us, or persecute us, we will remain steadfast in the truth because the truth is Christ and in the end, He will be the Victor: ‘If the world hates you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you’” (John 15:18-19).

“We are confident that the Patroness and Directress of Mount Athos, the Lady Theotokos, will also safeguard her inheritance and the Lord ‘will with the temptation also make a way to escape’ for Geronda Ephraim his beloved Synodia. Let’s supplicate her to help the Lord’s will to happen.”

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