Athos hegumen calls on hierarchs to punish vaccine opposing clerics

18 November 2021 10:18
Hegumen Bartholomew. Photo: Hegumen Bartholomew. Photo:

Authorities are obliged to assist hierarchs in punishing clerics who oppose vaccines, while journalists must monitor the authorities, said Abbot Bartholomew.

Abbot Bartholomew of the New Esphigmenou Monastery on the Holy Mount Athos called on church authorities to punish clergy and monks who oppose vaccination against COVID-19, according to the Greek newspaper Vima Orthodoxias.

The abbot of New Esphigmenou, who would previously receive schismatics from Ukraine, believes that “local church authorities (for example, the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, the Holy Metropolis, the Holy Community of Mount Athos, etc.) are obliged to take action against those clergy who oppose their decisions and preach against vaccination in their territory or being part of their staff."

Hegumen Bartholomew is convinced that the state authorities "are obliged to assist the Church in fulfilling this task." In addition, the authorities should "follow up" the spread of anti-vaccination information on the Internet and "control" anti-vaccination demonstrations.

Abbot Bartholomew also believes that journalists should "monitor the relevant authorities and conduct in-depth investigations on their own if the latter do not function optimally."

The abbot of New Esphigmenou reminded that "anti-vaccination preachers are well known to everybody", and "by a simple search on the Internet, anyone can find self-proclaimed ‘elders’ and ‘fathers’ and their corresponding negative attitudes towards vaccines."

The monks of Esphigmenou Monastery (who are called the "old brethren" on Mount Athos) consider themselves to be a canonical entity of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but do not recognize Patriarch Bartholomew, who currently holds the patriarchal throne, as they believe that "he is the enemy of Orthodoxy."

At the end of 2002, the Patriarchate of Constantinople officially declared the Esphigmenou brothers (117 monks at the time) as schismatics, which, according to Greek law, entailed expulsion from Mount Athos. Despite the fact that the relevant court decision was made in Thessaloniki and then by the Greek Supreme Court, they could not expel the "old brethren" from the Esphigmenou Monastery.

Then, in 2005, a parallel community was created, which is called the "New Esphigmenou", whose abbot is currently Abbot Bartholomew. This community is based in Caries and is vested with the rights that used to belong to the "old brethren" of Esphigmenou.

Earlier, the UOJ wrote that Abbot Bartholomew called on the Greek authorities to punish unvaccinated monks.

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