A petition has been started for the release of the Archimandrite Ephraim from prison in Greece. For background on this case click this link.
I have printed the petition below and if you wish to add your name, as I did mine, then follow this link to the site and add your name.
Release from prison the very Reverend Archimandrite Ephraim
Dear Mr. President of the Hellenic Republic and Mr. Prime Minister !
We write this open letter – endorsed by many Orthodox Christians worldwide- to express our deep concern with ongoing violations of religious freedom masqueraded as criminal “justice” trials by the Greek authorities.
We have recently heard about the Court of Appeals Judges’ Council decision of December 23, 2011 to hold the very Reverend Archimandrite Ephraim, the Abbot of Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi, in custody while unsettling land swamp criminal investigation. We were appalled by the unprecedented ferocity of the Greek law enforcements in persecution of a monk who had practiced nothing more than humility, celibacy and poverty for over thirty years as obligatory condition to remain as such. The standoff which started off as a civil lawsuit between the Vatopaidi Monastery and the Greek state and lately gone as far as to attempted Church’s property acquisition by the goverment, now has escalated into plane religious intolerance in Greece.
The ongoing litigation between Greece and the monastery was initiated by Vatopaidi convent in order to defend its estate ownership and titles and dates back to the ‘20s. The internal assessment carried out by the Mount Athos governing Commission found no evidence of wrong-doing on the Father Ephraim’s part and, subsequently, no disciplinary actions were taken against him while criminal investigation.
For the commodity of Vatopaidi monastery charity programs all its financial activities were entrusted to the professional managing company so that monks could fully commit themselves to prayer and spiritual development. The latter fact proves an absolute absurdity of financial crimes allegations of the Abbot.
Having an Eastern European background and being born in former Soviet Union country,–a country is yet to reanimate its spiritual life,- we have gone through massive silent persecutions of the religious spiritual leaders and laity and even denying its very existence. Most of the monasteries and other religious institutions were closed down and their property was expropriated. Millions of lives had to be sacrificed to martyrdom during the Communist era while secular fundamentalism was running wild.
As the twenty-first century moves forward, we begin to gain some understanding of the spiritual significance of openly proclaimed hostility to monastic life, dogmas of the Church and persecution of the faithful.
Therefore, we regard such incidents as possessing imminent dangers for the Greek society, as well as all Western Christianity.
We can not deny the fact that European civilization had elevated core Christian values to the universal heights, among which stands out religious freedom of an individual. For this reason, we find of great concern that Christian monks and spiritual leaders are put behind the bars, get harassed otherwise and are denied acknowledgement of their contribution into this very civilization.
We hope that you will show strong concern for the situation in Holy Mountain. We write to ask that you make a public statement supporting Athonite monks and their monasteries with more than thousand- year-long history of their autonomy in right to practice Orthodox Christianity as their fundamental human right and for Greece to abide by its constitutional and international obligations.
We, undersigned, implore you to call on the Greek law enforcement authorities to immediately release the very Reverend Archimandrite Ephraim and drop all the charges against him and other monks. We are asking you to let the very Reverend Archimandrit Ephraim to return to his duty as spiritual father of the Hellenic laity and cease ongoing defamation against the Church.