Friday, January 24, 2003

I've only been halfway following the agitation on Mount Athos, so I didn't really get that it had gotten this bad.

For 30 years the monastery has been fighting a doctrinal war with the office of the Patriarch, head of the Orthodox Church, which favours forging closer ties with the Catholic Church.Now the Patriarch, Vartholomaios, has grown tired of the holier-than-thou attitude of those within Esfigmenou and has given the monks until the end of the month to leave.For the monks there is no question of giving into this new ultimatum. For them the monastery's resemblance more to a medieval castle than a place of worship is about to come into its own. A theological conflict is about to become a physical siege.

"The Patriarch wishes to evict us," said Abbot Methodius, "But we will not go. However he tries, we are ready for everything

.....How the Patriarch intends to enforce his will remains unclear. The monks are willing to bolt the reinforced doors and bide their time. They have a well and stores."We will not fight with weapons," laughed Abbot Methodius. "We have only our rosaries. But one thing is for sure. The only way we will leave is if we are dead."





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