Mt. Athos Monks Battle Police Over Eviction

    An earlier clash between the Mt. Athos monks and police
    An earlier clash between the Mt. Athos monks and police

    Angry monks at the Esphigmenou Monastery in the monastic community of Mount Athos in northern Greece, refusing to obey an eviction order, tossed Molotov Cocktails and rocks at bailiffs attempting to serve them on July 29, chasing them off the premises of the famed peninsula.

    “The monks of Esphigmenou Monastery who are in the residential quarters and are in a defense position to defend it, threw some objects from inside out. We are expecting the intervention of the prosecutor from Thessaloniki. We are expecting the police to offer a political peaceful and calm solution, otherwise things will happen that will blacken Greece’s image abroad,” a spokesperson for the rebel monks, Iraklis Moraitis, told the state-run Athens-Macedonia New Agency.

    The monks of Esphigmenou Monastery have been declared an illegal brotherhood by the spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos, over a dispute regarding improving ties with the Catholic Church, which the monks vehemently oppose.

    In 2002 Bartholomeos ordered their eviction from the 10th-Century Mount Athos monastery but they refused to obey.  Moraitis said that the eviction order delivered to them last week was aimed at having them vacate the premises so that the management of the monastic community can get its hands on the monastery’s assets.

    The Church doesn’t recognize the position of those inside the monastery as monks and a war of words has lingered for years between the leaders of the Greek Orthodox Church and the ultra-Orthodox self-styled monks inside the monastery.