Ephraim to stay on as spiritual leader

The monk in charge of the Vatopedi Monastery will remain responsible for its spiritual affairs but will not have any say in administrative matters following a meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios on Friday, sources have told Sunday’s Kathimerini. Head monk Ephraim was summoned to the Patriarchate in Istanbul after a series of revelations about the Mount Athos monastery’s business dealings and Ephraim’s refusal to answer MPs’ questions about the property exchange with the state, which is the subject of a corruption inquiry. A statement was issued after the meeting, in which the Patriarchate, regarded as the spiritual home of Orthodox Christians, stated that Ephraim had decided to tender his resignation. Sources have now revealed that Ephraim’s resignation was a direct result of pressure from Vartholomaios and it was decided that, as a compromise, Cyprus-born Ephraim, who has been at Vatopedi for the last 18 years, would retain a significant role at the monastery, which houses 110 monks. «As the spiritual father of the monks, Ephraim will keep the title of chief monk but, as he expressly vowed, he will relinquish every administrative power, at least until the investigation of the matter by justice is completed,» a Patriarchate source told Kathimerini. Ephraim denies any wrongdoing. In the statement he submitted to the parliamentary committee last week, he claimed that the state had decided what properties to include in the exchange for some 8,000 hectares of land around Lake Vistonida in northern Greece. Ephraim’s decision not to answer the deputies’ questions prompted a separate judicial probe, which means that he will have to appear before a prosecutor on Friday. A successor to Ephraim as administrative leader of the Vatopedi Mona-stery is to be announced tomorrow.

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