A month to go for rebel monks

Monastic authorities on the autonomous Mt Athos community have started serving eviction orders to members of a rebel fraternity who have been excommunicated and declared schismatic for refusing to acknowledge the authority of Ecumenical Patriarch Varthomolaios. Police officers will deliver papers to each of the 100-odd monks residing in the 1,000-year-old Esphigmenou Monastery, ordering them to leave the premises by January 28. This follows a Dec. 26 decision by the community’s ruling body made public on Saturday. The ultra-Orthodox Esphigmenou monks have regarded the Patriarchate – which has jurisdiction over Mt Athos – as an abode of renegades since the 1964 Istanbul meeting between Patriarch Athinagoras and Pope Paul VI, whom Orthodox zealots regard as the incarnation of all evil. The Patriarchate excommunicated the Esphigmenou fraternity two weeks ago. The rebels have refused to abandon the monastery.

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