Patriarch Bartholomeos And The Corrupt Greek State's Siege On Genuine Greek Orthodox Christianity
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Greek police guard Mount Athos
18 May 2007
SALONIKA, Greece - Greek police have been stationed around the monastic community of Mount Athos, one of Orthodox Christianity’s holiest sites, a day after some 200 pilgrims attempted to enter the enclave illegally, local officials said.
Police in the main outlying city of Salonika said the pilgrims wanted to access Esphigmenou Monastery, which is occupied by a dissident monk faction at odds with the other 20 monasteries of the semi-autonomous community, but lacked permits from the community collegium and were repulsed.
Around 30 pilgrims managed to evade police on Wednesday by jumping over a wall.
The pilgrims went to Mount Athos, some 120 kilometres southeast of Salonika in northern Greece, for the religious festival of the Assumption.
Esphigmenou Monastery has been under occupation by around 80 elderly monks for years, despite an eviction order issued in 2002, and the overseers of Mount Athos are on the lookout for attempts to send supporters into the monastery.
The Esphigmenou monks observe the old Julian Calendar and oppose the Patriarchate’s 1972 decision to improve ties with the Roman Catholic Church.
In October, nine of the Esphigmenou monks were condemned to two-year suspended prison sentences for refusing to leave the monastery.
Two months later, a clash between the dissident group and members of a rival monastic order appointed to replace them left four monks hospitalised.