Greek monks defy eviction with Molotov cocktails


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The Independent Online

Monks refusing to obey an eviction order hurled Molotov cocktails at bailiffs who were trying to bulldoze their way into a monastic sanctuary in Mount Athos, northern Greece on Monday morning.

The monks say they have been barricaded inside the administrative offices for their monasteries in the city of Karyes, the capital of Mount Athos, for 12 days.

Video footage recorded by the monks and given to The Independent shows bailiffs driving the bulldozer into the doors in an attempt to break it down.

Father Savvas, one of the monks inside the building, told The Independent over the phone that around 20-25 men tried to break down the door with an earth-moving vehicle early Monday morning.

“We’re under siege: they’re trying to break our morale, waiting for us to run out of food, so we’re expecting their next big move,” Father Savvas said.

The fighting stems from a dispute between the monks and the Orthodox Church that goes back nearly 40 years. In 1972, the monks stopped commemorating the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinopole in their liturgy after he started reconciling with the Vatican. The monks at the monastery reject the restoration of relations.

The dispute has seen the brotherhood of over 120 monks living in the all-male sanctuary in northern Greece declared illegal by the spiritual leader of the Orthodox church, who has asked them to leave the monastery.

Efforts to expel the brotherhood have been made since the early 2000s when the monks were declared “schismatic” by the Patriarchate.  Since then, their  access to food and medicine has been difficult.

“We’ve been condemned to a slow death,” one monk lamented.