MINSK, 12 January (BelTA) – Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk Filaret, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus has made an appeal asking the Greek authorities to release Archimandrite Ephraim, Abbot of the Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos, BelTA learnt from the Belarusian Exarchate.
The Greek court made a ruling on the arrest of the Archimandrite in December 2011. He was accused of moot property transactions between the Greek state and the monastery. The actions of the Greek authorities have sparked a general outcry in the religious world. Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill has sent a message to Greek President Karolos Papoulias asking to free the abbot. The same request has been made by Metropolitan Filaret who addressed Prime Minister of Greece Lukas Papadimos, President Karolos Papoulias, and Prosecutor of the Supreme Court (Areopagus) Yoannis Tendes.
The court’s decision and the arrest of Abbot Ephraim, spiritual mentor and an elderly man, at a time when we celebrate Christmas, the birth of hope and love, can be interpreted as a provocation and an expression of hostility to the Church in a country which is Orthodox by the Constitution,” says the Patriarchal Exarch.
He also noted: “The facts that served as the grounds to prosecute Archimandrite Ephraim are contested by many lawyers in Greece and cast doubt on the investigation being fair and democratic.”
As previously reported, from 10 November to 17 November last year, Archimandrite Ephraim visited Belarus with the blessing of Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk Filaret. The delegation, which he led, brought the exact copy of the miracle-working Icon of the Mother of God “Comfort and Solace”, which was donated to the Holy Annunciation monastery in the village of Lyady. During the visit the Abbot also met with members of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus, monks from a number of monasteries, clergy of Vitebsk and Novogrudok eparchies, the leadership of the Education Ministry and the Belarusian State University. Filaret awarded Archimandrite Ephraim the Order of Saint Kirill of Turov. In turn, Archimandrite Ephraim announced the establishment of scholarships for the best students of the Minsk Suvorov military school.