Outcast monks try to heal Patriarchate rift

The 110 dissident monks of the Esphigmenou Monastery on Mount Athos have taken the first step toward restoring relations with Patriarch Vartholomaios by writing to him, it was revealed yesterday. The Esphigmenou monks occupy one of Greece’s oldest monasteries and have been locked in a dispute since 1972 with the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul over its decision to improve ties with the Roman Catholic Church and the Vatican. However, the monks have written to Vartholomaios expressing their support for his efforts to be fully recognized by Turkish authorities regardless of the «spiritual differences» between the zealots and the Patriarchate. «The patriarch has every right to protest against this breach of human rights and religious freedom,» the monks wrote. «We are also joining his just struggle.»