January 11, 2012
In its official announcement, the Patriarchate points out that Mount Athos lies within the jurisdiction and borders of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and though it may include Orthodox monks of different national backgrounds, its matters hold no pan-orthodox interests. Therefore, no other Autocephalous Church is allowed to interfere with the operation and issues of Mount Athos in any way.
The announcement followed a long discussion on the issue of the pretrial detention of Abbot Ephraim of Vatopedi. The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew expressed his regrets over the whole situation surrounding the case of Abbot Ephraim.
The announcement also emphasizes that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has always avoided intervening with any judicial matters and investigations, due to respect of judicial independence, and will continue its policy, especially as far as this case is concerned, in which the Patriarchate does not know the content of the relevant papers in the case.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate had asked Abbot Ephraim to leave his post until the judicial control of the Monastery’s affairs was over. This suggestion was followed by Abbot Ephraim at first, but later on a second decision of the Monastery’s Council allowed him to return to his duties.