Archimandrite Yefrem’s arrest is attack on Athos monks, Orthodox faith – Russian Orthodox Church
Moscow, December 28, Interfax – The Moscow Patriarchate has spoken in defense of Archimandrite Yefrem, superior of the Vatopedi Monastery in Athos.
“It is perfectly obvious that the arrest of a person such as Archimandrite Yefrem, who does not pose any danger, without considering the case on its merits and before a court ruling is an emergency, which surprises us deeply,” head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk said in an interview with Interfax-Religion on Wednesday.
At the end of last week, Archimandrite Yefrem was arrested in connection with a large-scale investigation into real estate deals between the Vatopedi Monastery and the Greek state initiated in 2008. Over the past weekend, police officers came to the Vatopedi Monastery to arrest Father Yefrem. However, a decision was made to keep the priest in the monastery for health reasons after he was examined by doctors. In the meantime, it was reported on Tuesday that Father Yefrem was arrested and taken from Athos.
“This decision seriously concerns Russian Orthodox Christians and its hierarchs and makes one think about its true reasons,” Metropolitan Hilarion said.
He also said Father Yefrem became especially dear to many Russian Orthodox Christians after he accompanied Our Lady’s Belt on its visit to Russia. Russian Orthodox Christians are surprised that this arrest “has occurred in Greece, which is an Orthodox country, during the celebrations of Christmas.”
“Their surprise is understandable, as are the feelings of many Greek bishops, clergymen, and laymen, who believe that the decision on Archimandrite Yefrem is a hostile attack Athos monks and the Orthodox Church in general,” he said.
Earlier, the Foundation of St.Andrew the First-Called first time ever delivered the Belt of the Mother of God from the Vatopedi Monastery. After visiting St. Petersburg the shrine was taken to other Russian cities. The last point was Moscow. The belt returned to Athos on November 28.
3 mln of people venerated the Belt of the Holy Virgin when the shrine stayed in Russia.