Curriculum: Law and Religion
Tutor: Vincenzo Pacillo (Università degli studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia)
The autonomous self-administered theocratic monastic republic of Mount Athos represents a unicum, not only on a European level but also on an international one, since it is a State within a State.
Mount Athos is protected by a series of international treaties by the European Union, more specifically, by the Official Journal of the European Communities and the Court of Auditors Special Report on the customs territory of the Community – but only on grounds of a spiritual and religious nature – and by the Greek Constitution. The national provisions that safeguard this ancient regime are the Legislative Decree of 10/16 September 1926, that became law the day after the Constitution of 1927 came into force and article 105 of the Greek Constitution, which is entirely dedicated to Mount Athos.
Even though Mount Athos is an autonomous State, it is still located in Greek territory and therefore, subordinated to the latter, which is in charge of the administrative matters, public order and security. The Greek State makes use of the figure of the Governor, a government officer elected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to maintain public order on the peninsula and to supervise the decisions made by the Holy Community, Mount Athos’ Parliament (art. 105 par. 5 Con.).
Since on Mount Athos the only residents are Christian Orthodox monks, they are the only ones that are protected by constitutional means, for example, according to art. 105 and to the Constitution of Mount Athos: only novices and monks are allowed to reside permanently on Mount Athos and automatically acquire Greek citizenship; monks are also exempted from the compulsory military service, which in Greece is still mandatory for boys above the age of eighteen. Whoever wants to visit Mount Athos must obtain a permit; the settlement of heterodox or schismatic people is prohibited and of whoever is not a Christian Orthodox and is an atheist; the establishment or foundation of any special association or brotherhood which is in opposition to the ancient monastic dictates of Mount Athos is prohibited; It is forbidden to practice any proselytizing, moral, religious, ecclesiastical, social, nationalist or any other kind of propaganda on the peninsula; people who are not Christians or heretics or schismatics can’t testify nor report a crime, except if they are the ones who suffer the offence; finally, the access to women and female animals is prohibited.