Last month (August 14), DX-World published information from Theodore, SV1GRM about Monk Iakovos, SV2RSG, Holy Monastery of Koutloumousiou of Mount Athos.
Today, a response to that letter from Kostas, SV1CQN is now published. At Kosta’s request, comments are turned off in this article.
Last month SV1GRM published a letter on behalf of Fr Iakovos, SV2RSG regarding operations from Mount Athos. Regrettably, the report contains a series of inaccuracies and misleading claims about the status and activities of Fr Apollo, SV2ASP/A. I felt that letting certain claims pass under silence would be unfair towards our late colleague, and that a brief response is in order, if only out of respect of his memory, of truth, and of those who are still suffering his loss.
1. Fr Apollo received his amateur radio licence in 1988, but he only started his transmissions in 1989 after he was issued a formal authorization by the Holy Council. The document can be still viewed on his qrz.com page. While emergency communications were indeed what originally led him to ham radio, the Holy Council did not place any restrictions on his transmissions. As anyone reading Greek can clearly see, NOWHERE on his Holy Council authorization are emergency communications mentioned. The document is stamped with the Council’s special quadripartite stamp; each of the Council’s four representatives in charge owns a part of it, so it means that there was full agreement on the document.
2. The legal QTH of the station was the Holy Monastery of Docheiariou, as stated on his Greek ham radio licence. The /A suffix was used not because he was not authorized to operate from there (see the authorization from the monastery, also on his qrz.com page), but because of the absence of a prefix allocated to Mt Athos. Fr. Apollo formally requested a proper Athos prefix on different occasions, but his requests were opposed by several Greek colleagues and thus ultimately rejected by the Ministry of Telecommunications.
3. As to the ‘unrepeatable criticisms’ about his activities, had the Holy Council found his operations questionable or undesirable, they would have simply revoked his authorization. They didn’t.
4. The ‘negative disposition’ towards ham radio Fr Iakovos talks about is the unfortunate result of transmissions not authorized by the Holy Council, including SV1RP, who transmitted from Fr Iakovos’ monastery in 2015 under the pretext of ‘training the monks’. As a result of such unauthorized activities, a circular was issued by the Holy Council on 28 June 2015 re-stating what was already known, i.e. that operations from Mount Athos need to be authorized by the Holy Council.
Finally, this just a personal consideration, but transmitting without authorization and asking for it afterwards is probably not the way to go and does not produce a very good image of ham radio. It is unfortunate that Fr Iakovos was introduced to ham radio under such circumstances and, once he received his callsign, advised by the same colleagues to operate without having been authorized by the Holy Council yet. But I agree with him that this is not the time nor the place to open up polemics. What I find regrettable though (and what triggered these few lines) is blaming (directly or indirectly) someone who is no longer around and diffusing false rumours about him worldwide, especially considering all his efforts to keep Mt Athos on the air over the years.