Global leaders have made pilgrimages to the Vatopedi Monastery before going on to the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. This was reported by Bloomberg news on January 23, 2005. In his article, A. Craig Copetas wrote: â€œâ€˜Davos Menâ€™ Go to Holy Mountain to Ponder Globe, Confess Sins.â€ And World Economic Forum founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab once confessed: â€œDavos is a search for the meaning of life and the meaning of what youâ€™re doing in itâ€¦ Davos is the modern take on monastic endeavors.â€
US President George H.W. Bush and Cubaâ€™s Fidel Castro have been here. Understandably not together. In addition, Britainâ€™s Prince Charles is a frequent visitor to Mount Athos. His first visit took place shortly after the death of Princess Diana in 1997. According to one monk on Athos, â€œPrince Charles is Orthodox in his heart.â€ Nonetheless, whatever Charlesâ€™s interior state, he is limited in his range of actions since, unless he is to renounce his right to inherit the British throne, he cannot become Orthodox.
It is said that his favorite monastery is Vatopedi, celebrated as one of the Western worldâ€™s most fashionable retreats. Pilgrims such as Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, King Juan Carlos of Spain and former US President Jimmy Carter have all come here to ponder the state of their souls and the state of the world.
Recently the monastery â€“ as well as its chief monk Ephraim â€“ was involved in a financial scandal concerning a land exchange between the state and Vatopedi. It is estimated that Greek taxpayers have been swindled out of more than 100 million euros. Both New Democracy and PASOK ministers were allegedly involved in the affair.
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An other picture concerning the Vatopedi land deal.
the above picture, from Ta Neaâ€™s front page last week, shows Abbott Efraim (head of Vatopedi) under the red-lettered headline â€œRevelationâ€ (in the original Greek, apocalypse) â€” â€œVatopedi Monastery â€” they gave a lake, they took building plots.â€