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Highly Respected
Fathers of the Holy Community of Mount Athos,
bless us

We address you with this letter because in these times we have the greatest need for your holy prayers and your actual assistance in the informing and alarming of all of the Orthodox churches and the monasticism throughout the Orthodox world, but also the mundane institutions that can help us with our case. We live on the territory of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric, in a country with a name registered in the United Nations as FYROM. The people who in a long-lasting tradition are deeply orthodox, because of the long rule of communism, didn’t get any religious and liturgical education. The Synod of the Church from 1967 is in a schism with the Orthodox world because they promoted themselves from an autonomous status to autocephalous without consulting the canonical order of the Church. Ever since, the schism has been accepted as a “normal” state and is persistently protected with worldly methods by the high-ranking clergy of “MOC”.

We, the orthodox monks, who write this letter endured this state until the appearance of a possibility for choice. This happened with the formation of the Synod of the Canonical Autonomous local Church named the Ohrid Archbishopric with tree bishops who are from our people and with an Exarch – Metropolitan of Veles and Vardar John, enthroned by the Serbian patriarch Paul.

We would also like to emphasise that it hasn’t been easy to decide to take this step, above all because we, just as all the people who live on the territory of FYROM do not feel like Serbs, nor are we Serbs, and we knew well that we would be proclaimed for traitors of our people and fatherland, just as it happened. But Christ and His Catholic Church were and always will come first. This is why we humbly ask of you not to make our already difficult situation even harder, and that is why we ask you not to address us as Serbs or call the Metropolitan John a Serbian Exarch or the Church a Serbian autonomous church, because this is a worldly approach that will only deepen the chasm, changing the problem to a political issue. The people here call themselves Macedonians. But having an understanding for Your position on this, we expect of you to at least address him in a manner in which the latest Atonite guidebooks address the new martyrs who come from our people – Slavo-Macedonians, but not Serbs, then an Exarch of the Ohrid Archbishopric and not a Serbian Exarch etc. Because, we knew that the problem lies in the lack of elementary ecclesiastical consciousness, repentance and humility in the Church clergy of “MOC”, we decided to join the Ohrid Archbishopric. The people who did this belong to four monasteries: Abbot David, spiritual father of the monastery “Dormition the Most Holly Mother of God” – Prespa with the abbess Kirana and her sisterhood (nine nuns), the Abbot Maxim with his brotherhood from the Markov monastery near Skopje as well a spiritual father of the monastery “Saint Elijah” near Skopje, with its abbess Taisa and her sisterhood (eight nuns), and later the Archimandrite Sophrony from the monastery “Dormition the Most Holly Mother of God” – Treskavec joined us with his brotherhood. This is about thirty monks and nuns, which is one third of the monasticism in our fatherland. We know for sure that in the near future we will be joined by other monasteries, as well as priests. After a previous request to the Synod of the Ohrid Archbishopric and acceptance of the same, we appointed concelebration on the 11th January 2004, in the chapel of the Resurrection in an apartment in the city Bitola where the Metropolitan John is forced to do his service because he was evicted from his Metropolis and he has been denied entrance into the temples. During the celebration of the Liturgy, about thirty policemen came to the chapel and they ordered us to stop the service. The Metropolitan John, who concelebrated with the abbots David and Maxim replied that they will stop the service only if they got killed. After that the policemen waited until the end of the liturgy, searched the apartment and took us to the police station. We were twelve: the Metropolitan John, the Bishop Marko, the abbots David and Maxim, the abbesses Kirana, Taisa and Olympiada, as well as one monk and four nuns from their brotherhoods and sisterhoods. The police kept us for thirty hours, although the law allows only 24 hours of temporary arrest, without informing us of our charges and questioning us in a very rude manner. During this time, while we were kept in temporary arrest, an unseen thing happened: by the order of the bishops of “MOC”, the police entered our monasteries and forced the monks out of them, without any court order or transfer of the monastery. A bulldozer was making its way through the snow to the monastery Treskavec (at the altitude of 1300 metres) for three days, just to evict the monks, although the archimandrite Sophrony didn’t attend the concelebration, but what they knew was that the abbot David is the spiritual father of that monastery.

With this act, once more, they confirmed their schismatic consciousness and their false spirituality, because every parent would at least try to talk to his child, and not evict him in the street with police assistance.

Today, we manage somehow, closed in apartments, praying for the Divine Providence to fulfil Its intentions.

They know that if they give us at least one monastery or a church, numerous people will start joining us, because believing people trust in their spiritual monastic fathers, and not the bishops of “MOC”. We would also like to inform you that the monasteries we lived in were made liveable without any help from the bishops, for they were left abandoned for decades. The bishops especially disliked the relations of our spiritual fathers with Mount Athos, because they don’t want to have healthy sons, but personless slaves.

Respected Elders, we ask You to help us in a way that You will consider best for getting out of this situation. You must certainly know that the Metropolitan John is kept in pretrial detention for 30 days and he will be judged for instigating religious, racial and national hatred, for which he can be convicted from 1 to 5 years of prison, and the rest of us were tried for disturbing the public peace and order. These are accusations with an obviously political background. We ask You to support us with a letter that we will show before the media. In addition, we ask of You to make a statement about the former Atonite hierodeacon Nahum of the monastery Grigoriou, presently a metropolitan of the schismatic “MOC”, who persistently publicly claims the authority of, as he says, “his” spiritual father the Cathegoumenos George Kapsanis, although it is known to us that he left his elder without his blessing. To the people, he presents himself as a hesychast and the only one who has the prayer of the mind and the heart, and on the other hand we know that he is one of the bishops who asked the police to take actions against the monks. He says that the problem is not ecclesiastical but political, which makes him one of the most dangerous conspirers of the schism, because when people hear that he has spent nine year on Mount Athos they immediately see him as a serious person. We pray you to visibly, with a letter, declare Your opinion, in which people will be able to find out the, until now, concealed truth about him.

Asking for Your prayers, and with the greatest respect and love in Christ, Your humble pupils and like-hearted Orthodox monks.