Monks' rock band riles Greek Orthodox clergy

Posted: Friday, January 19, 2001

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- A group of monks whose rock band produced a platinum album and spawned other Christian pop acts has made few fans among the clergy running Greece's Orthodox Church.

The Holy Synod, the church's governing body, last week told the monks to stop recording, saying their music was tarnishing centuries of monastic tradition.

''This type of activity is not consistent with the lengthy monastic tradition ... and in certain cases, has troubled and scandalized the faithful members of the church,'' the church said in a statement.

Father Nektarios and his fellow monks at a remote monastery in central Greece shot to fame last summer with ''Tsipaki,'' or ''Little Computer Chip'', an attack on technology's invasion of people's private lives. Their videos include footage from the Gulf War, actors sprayed in gold paint, and bearded monks jamming on a wooded hilltop.

Their first record, ''I Learned to Live Free,'' quickly gained cult status. The group's new disc, ''SOS,'' is scheduled for release early this year.

''We are surprised by the position of the Synod, because on the one hand we have all these letters of congratulation, and suddenly they issue a statement which accuses us,'' Nektarios said.

The monks turned to music after complaining about the lyrics of songs popular among young boys at a camp the monastery runs, tucked in the mountains overlooking the Corinthian Gulf about 185 miles northwest of Athens. All proceeds from their music go to the camp.

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