The blight of “Bavarocracy”* in the Church of Greece
In the same year that Ioannis Kapodistrias was assassinated (1831), Korais, who was a product of western education, published his work “Hieratikon Synekdemon” – a text containing his proposals for the reformation of the Church according to Protestant Calvinism. His endeavor was to turn the Church into a “national institution” that would be State-controlled. In other words, one more public service. The “Koraists” regarded the excising of the Church of Hellas from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of New Rome/Constantinople a necessity, because the Hellenic Revolution had been fought against the Turks and the Neoromans (“Byzantines”), supposedly by the descendants of the ancient Hellenes.
These ideas of Korais were to be implemented later on by his colleagues, as was Theocletos Farmakides with the assistance of Maurer, who organized an ecclesiastic coup in collaboration with the Bavarians. Head of the Holy Synod had now become the heterodox (Papist) king, Otto, who not only presided over the Synod, but whom the Priests were also obliged to commemorate during services. On the basis of this new situation, the foreign and heterodox king appointed a 5-member Holy Synod, in accordance with his own perceptions. This schism fortunately did not last many years; In 1850, following certain concessions by the Hellenic Church, the schism was healed.
But let us now read about what happened to the Church of Hellas, after 1833 and the prevalence of the “Koraists”. According to the book written by Archimandrite Dositheos:
<<… We are in the year 1833. The tiny State that extends as far as Melouna is counting its monasteries. 593 were found. Far too many. They are no longer necessary (even though they were, not so long ago). Thus, by decree of the Bavarian Viceroy (i.e.: Theocletos Farmakides) dated 25/9 of the same year, 412 of them have been abolished; that is, all those with less than six resident monks. The monks who lived in those monasteries had to be evicted forcefully and their property confiscated by the State.
By another decree of the vice-regency dated 25/2 of the following year, the number of nunneries was confined to three only, throughout the land. In each one, the number of nuns was not to surpass 40. If by chance that number of nuns was surpassed, “they shall be invited by the local bishop to resign from monastic living and return to the world. The bishop shall be commissioned by the Synod to notify them in its name that they can enforce this, without censure.”
Of course, one might say: Very well; that was a decree of the State. What did the Synod do? Did it react? How would it be expected to react, when the author of that decree and the encyclical were the one and the same person, the Koraist Theocletos Farmakides, Secretary General of the 4-member Synod (Cyril of Corinth, Paisios of Boeotia, Zacharias of Thera and Sophronios of Attica)? Quite the opposite. It was exceedingly pleased. Listen now to the synodical autocephalous acclamations:
In Nafplion, May 5th, 1834
“…thus, the monasteries having less than six monks were abolished and barely 80-90 have been preserved; that is, those with more than six monks….Most certainly no-one wants to be opposed to this most useful measure, when properly and impassively thinking of its immense results…”
Everything that the conquerors had shown respect to for entire centuries was demolished within two-three months. The damage to the Church and the Nation is incalculable. Sacred heirlooms, manuscripts, sacred vessels, sacred relics, were thrown into gullies, sold, or burned. For one purpose only. So that the evicted monks would not be able to return once again. As though yesterday’s champions are today’s irreconcilable enemies.
This tragic picture is eloquently presented in his own unique expressive manner by the 1821 revolution hero, General Makryiannis (“Memoirs”, Karavias Publications, p.362):
“They totally destroyed the monasteries, and the poor monks, who had wasted themselves in the Struggle, are now dying of starvation, on the streets, whereas those monasteries were the first bastions of our Revolution… And the poor monks sacrificed themselves, and most of them were killed in the battles. And the Bavarians, who thought them to be Capuchin monks of Europe, did not know that they were modest and virtuous people, who had acquired what they had with the toil of their hands, struggling and working for so many centuries; and so many poor lived together with them and could eat a piece of bread. And those accursed politicians of our homeland and those corrupt hierarchs….agreed with the Bavarese and spoiled and looted all the temples of the Monasteries…” …>>
*“Bavarocracy”: A loose term alluding to the period of time that Greece/Hellas was governed by Bavarian families, following the 1821 Liberation Revolution against the Turks and after the assassination of Hellas’ first Greek Governor, Ioannis Kapodistrias.
(Source: Archmandrite Dositheos: “I want to drink all of the Bosporus” , 2nd Edition, publication of the Holy Monastery of Tatarna, Evrytania, p.256-7