Monks Take Up Arms in Greek Dispute

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Two groups of monks in northern Greece did battle this week, armed with sledge hammers and crowbars. One group of monks refuses to be evicted from a monastery despite the decree of church leaders.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

This week, rival groups of monks in Greece battled to control an ancient monastery. Seven people were injured. The clash was part of an ongoing dispute between legally recognized monks of the Orthodox Church and rebel monks who oppose the church's efforts to improve relations with the Roman Catholic Church. The rebel monks have barricaded themselves inside the thousand-year-old Esphigmenou Monastery on Mount Athos, an all-male self-governing peninsula in northern Greece.

The ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew I has commanded the dissident monks to leave Athos. Greece's highest administrative court has also ordered their eviction, but they haven't left. You might call them Felonious Monks.

So this week, replacement monks appointed by the Orthodox Church tried to smash their way into the monastery with sledgehammers. They were repelled by rebel monks using crowbars and fire extinguishers. Shouldn't all those monks be making brandy or something?

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