27 December 2011, 15:07
Guardian of Holy Virgin's Belt from Mt. Athos decides to go to jail
Moscow, December 27, Interfax - Archimandrite Efrem, the rector of the Vatopedi Monastery on Mt. Athos, has agreed to follow the court ruling on his arrest.
"Archimandrite Efrem under the pressure of Greek law enforcement bodies has decided to go to jail. He will be in custody as of this evening," Yevgeny Nikiforov, chairman of Radonezh Christian Orthodox society familiar with the situation, told Interfax-Religion on Tuesday.
He said that as of Tuesday Christian Orthodox organizations of Moscow will start conducting protest actions outside of the Greek embassy.
At the end of last week a Greek court ruled on the arrest of Archimandrite Efrem whom the Greek police suspect of economic offenses. Last weekend the police arrived at the monastery to arrest him. But after doctors examined the superior monk it was decided to leave him at the monastery for reasons of health.
The Russian Orthodox Church finds the ruling on the archimandrite's arrest unjustifiably tough.
"This is an unprecedented event and naturally we feel concerned. Even if Father Efrem is guilty of something, the arrest of a superior monk is an excessive sanction," Secretary for Inter-Orthodox Affairs in the Synodal Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Igor Yakimchuk told Interfax-Religion last Saturday.
In its turn the Fund of Andrey the First-Called believes that such court judgments can be accounted only "to the political leaning of certain circles of the Greek establishment who in this way want to demonstrate to the West their readiness to give up the principles of organizing spiritual life recorded in the Greek constitution".
"It arouses special indignation that the court's move was taken against one of the most respected persons on Mt. Athos, an elderly person suffering from numerous ailments," a statement of the fund says.
The Foundation urges the governing body of Athos, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, representatives of other local Orthodox Churches and ordinary believers to speak for Father Yefrem as he "is exposed to prosecutions, which exceed the formal reason for launching the case."
Earlier, the Foundation of St.Andrew the First-Called first time ever delivered the Belt of the Mother of God from the Vatopedi Monastery. After visiting St. Petersburg the shrine was taken to other Russian cities. The last point was Moscow. The belt returned to Athos on November 28.
3 mln of people venerated the Belt of the Holy Virgin when the shrine stayed in Russia.
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