Parents sue monastery over son’s decision to become a monk

Author: Alexia Saoulli
Date Published: 09/02/2008

THE parents of a young monk at Machairas monastery are suing the government and Church for brainwashing their son.

Apparently, the parents believe that their son, who is over 18, is being controlled by the monks at Machairas monastery and that he was as good as forced into the monkhood. Because of this, they are suing the Attorney-general’s office, the Archbishop as head of the Church and monasteries, the Abbot of Machairas and Machairas Monastery itself.

The young man is said to be devastated by what his parents are doing, but has no intention of leaving the monastery, sources told the Cyprus Mail.

“He wants to stay and there is no way he will be told to leave. The monastery is open to everyone and accepts everyone. You can’t throw someone out. He feels really bad about it but his zeal for God keeps him there and he spends his time praying for his parents and loves them,” the source said.

This is not the first time parents have accused the monastery of brainwashing their sons into becoming monks. In the past, parents have appealed to the Holy Synod and government to intervene. The issue was also addressed at the House Human Rights Committee. A small group of parents even went so far as to set up the Cyprus Association of Friends and Family of Monks.

“Most parents, I’d say 95 per cent, are happy their sons have joined the monastery. It’s only a limited number who are upset about it and who believe their children have been brainwashed. This is simply ignorance because the monks have nothing but pure love inside them. Love for God and all of mankind, including their parents,” the source said.

He said unfortunately a lot of people found it difficult to look beyond the material world and to recognise that their children were on a spiritual path that did not involve worldly possessions.

“The monks experience God on a 24 hour basis. They are constantly with God and live in his grace. Their souls feel lighter. They are earth’s angels, not brainwashed individuals.”

But some parents said the fact that their sons did not attend their family members’ funerals outside the monastery was an indication that their minds were being controlled by the monks.

“This is not true. The monks are choosing not to leave the monastery because they want to stay up there in the quiet and in prayer. They do more good by praying for the souls of their deceased loved ones than attending a funeral just for appearances’ sake.”

The source, who wished to remain unnamed, said he had worked closely with the monks at Machairas monastery and that you couldn’t meet nicer people.

“They don’t brainwash anyone. I know people who have joined and after six months have left. It is not a life for everyone. Parents can also come and visit their children and there are even doctors who have become monks. Is it likely that they too were brainwashed? If so, what does that say about the medical profession and how easily medics can have their heads turned?”

He added: “The monks are pure of heart. They are full of love and live with God inside their hearts.”