OPINION

In defense of the Esphigmenou monks

As a Greek Orthodox believer, I would like to express my disturbance following the violent actions against the monks of the Esphigmenou Monastery on the Holy Mountain of Athos last month.  The sacred ground of Mount Athos has been desecrated as a result of the force used to dislodge the traditionalist monks from their monastery. As was reported, these monks have spent their lives on the Holy Mountain and have nowhere to go. They are within their rights to obey their conscience and continue to protest against the polices of ecumenism. I am unable to comprehend the hostility toward our own Orthodox brothers and even less the appalling acts of violence which do a tremendous disservice to Orthodoxy. I believe the effort to dislodge the monks should cease, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate should engage in a dialogue with them. Orthodox Christians are faced with a great many problems in the world today, such as Western secularism which continues to adopt an increasingly hostile attitude towards the expression of the Orthodox faith in public life. In addition, the advance of Islam is a tremendous source of concern for Christians considering the diminished status of Christians in the East. Are there not enough problems that Eastern Christians in the world today face? Must Orthodox Christians be hostile to one another and resort to the use of force to resolve differences? The peace and well-being of the Orthodox Church should be the first priority of all Orthodox churches, and the repeated attempts to force the monks of Esphigmenou to abandon the monastery is counterproductive, divisive, and scandalous. That acts of violence by monks against monks are occurring at all is appalling. That such acts are occurring without regard to the sanctity of the Holy Mountain is even worse. And more shocking still is that this senseless and un-Christian violence broke out during Christmas. THEODORE G. KARAKOSTAS, via e-mail.