Appeal of the Double Sacred Synaxis of the Holy Mountain Athos on the “Macedonian Issue”

The Holy Mountain, being wholeheartedly engrossed in the work of repentance and prayer, avoids commenting on current events. However, watching critical situations and fearing dangerous events, it sympathizes with the God-created man  in events which come to its attention. Thus sometimes it is forced to break its sensible silence, when truth is at stake and history is falsified. Something similar is happening today with the insidious attack on the Greekness of Macedonia.

The Holy Mountain through this letter wishes to contribute to the prevention of all evil and the consolidation of peaceand tranquility, which the world is in great need. Experts have brilliantly and scientifically expressed themselves on the Greekness of Macedonia. Findings and inscriptions, persons, names and events bear eloquent testimony to the truth, and every honest, sincere and civilized man can easily and conveniently find them when he/she wishes to.

The Holy Scriptures – in the Book of Prophet Daniel – six centuries before Christ mention the Greek King from Macedonia,Alexander the Great, whose cultural work is well known and unique in the history of mankind. In the Acts of the Apostles, the vision of Apostle Paul in Troas, as well as the visit to the cities of Macedonia, where he speaks and writes in Greek masterfully, is reported in great detail. Here, Christianity and Hellenism met, and from them the Byzantine Civilization was born; this is evidenced even today throughout Macedonia and particularly throughout the Holy Peninsula of Mount Athos.

The spiritual monastic ‘republic’ of Mount Athos – in which Monks from Orthodox communities all over reside for centuries in untouched Christian peace and God-given harmony – watching turmoil, distress and injustice among the nations in the neighboring Balkan countries, is sending a very warm appeal to any direction and to any competent authority, pleading and urging for peace, security and justice.

Peace, as an offspring of justice, would bring security and order and will not lead to unholy acts of bondage and baseless claims. “Those who reside on earth learn righteousness,” advise the Holy Scriptures, because it will keep all people within their boundaries without desiring claims of things belonging to others and usurpation and counterfeiting of intellectual and historical heritage of their neighbors.

The Orthodox Greeks, mainly through the work of monks, as the Thessalonian brothers Cyril and Methodius, made the peoples of the Balkans shareholders of their Orthodox Faith and culture. The beautiful Divine Worship entered vast Russia and the cradle of monasticism in this country has been the Holy Mount Athos. These holy men and others, whose list would be long, did not sell their identity to anyone.

One would expect these peoples to be grateful to the Nation, which was their benefactor. Ifthis happens impossible, at leastnot ask for title deeds of the land of their benefactors. Today as we understand well that the young state of Skopje is wearing foreign clothes and presents itself to the world with a name that historically documented belongs to others, we the monks as descendants of those who with divine zeal conveyed the light of Orthodoxy and civilization to the surrounding peoples, justly and strongly we protest. We do this because we see unprecedented injustice that shakes dangerously the divine peace between neighboring peoples of the same faith.

We wholeheartedly plead to the leaders, primarily of the Orthodox peoples, not to support this ill-advised injusticeand become the cause of dangerous turbulence, the consequences of which are impossible to avoid even in this Hesychastic Athonite ‘Republic’.

We wholeheartedly ask you to bring peace among you and not aim at eternal boundaries, which were drawn with blood.Peace, one of the most precious things in the world, is easy to get lost in no time and under the slightest awkward handling, but resetting it, of course cannot be achieved if libations of human blood, accompanied by torrents of tears, accompanies it. Let peace prevail, because the happiness of the peoples is not based on usurpation, forgery, baseless recognitions, depredations and expansionism, but rather on diligence, progress and peacemaking. “For peace of the whole world and our neighbors we pray extensively day and night to our Peacemaker and Peace-giver Heavenly Father to profusely give help to the extremely sensitive area of the Balkans, the geographical area of which the over millenial self-governed ‘Republic’ of Mount Athos belongs to, under Greek suzerainty and under the blessing aegis of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

We speak not just to make idle talk, as we aspire not human ambitions and estimates. We are not appealing to peoples ofother religions, but to fellow orthodox who are connected by common faith and sacred tradition for centuries. The discordamongst peoples of the same faith is a terrible and sad thing. Thusly, the Schism of Skopje is the source of many evils,one of which is the expansion of Unia, whose unholy behavior has already been condemned by all Orthodox peoples.

All of us who are wearing the honest monastic garment as a sign of love towards God and man, we appeal with sobriety and peace at heart to all directions to eliminate injustices and risks generated by the (mis-)appropriation of foreign symbols by Skopje.

We appeal to the authorities in Skopje to reconsider their attitude and contribute to the consolidation of stability so they could taste the sweet fruit of a calm life, as a large part of their population certainly wishes to. It is certain that the inhabitants of Skopje will appreciate that encroaching foreign elements is not only unfair to those to whom these elements belong to, but they are mainly injuring themselves, as if they have not their own traditions and culture.

We call to the leaders of peoples of the same faith, especially to the ones who have recognized the aforementioned state and have created a major problem for peace in the Balkans, to reconsider their decision.

We are humbly appealing to the most holy leaders of the Orthodox Churches, to friendly countries, magnanimously and through ways that they know best to contribute to the removal of black clouds in our borders.

(We are appealing) to the noble hearts and good judgment of the leaders of the West and the great transatlantic country of U.S.A. We are calling them to intervene to the extent of their powers so that political tranquility, liberalizing and cheerful for all prevails. Small Greece has offered much to the world civilization and any minimum return would be of immediate vindication.

Concluding, we, the multiple-years practitioners and contestants on Mount Athos, a spiritual place with pan-Orthodox and Universal mission, we, who for a thousand and more years live peacefully, delivering to everyone an admirable way of cohabitation, we, who reside in this much-tried region of Macedonia and are called Hagiorites, we raise our suppliant voice with one heart and through an unworthy mouth to our Benevolent God to speak in the hearts of rulers to come to their senses towards peace for peoples and remove all evil. Amen.

Signed and Proclaimed by Alll the Representatives and Heads of the Twenty Holy Monasteries of Mount Athos, present in the Extra-ordinary Double Sacred Synaxis.

(Translated from the original Greek into English by Nina Gatzoulis, Coordinator of the Committee of World Pan-Macedonian Associations so that it may be disseminated widely).

Source: Monday, August 20, 2012, PROTATON Magazine (Twenty years ago, 20 of August 1992)