Athens, October 9, 2017
Several Greek bishops have expressed their strong disagreement with the Holy Synod’s September 13 decree allowing abbots, hieromonks, and simple monks to visit and offer lectures in Greek cities and churches only by permission of the Holy Synod, rather than the local hierarch whose metropolis they wish to visit, reports AgionOros.
Their disagreement was voiced at the end of the Synod’s session on Friday. Several members of the hierarchy called the decision “unacceptable” and “unprecedented.” The head of the Sacred Community of Mt. Athos has also noted that this has never happened before in the history of the relations between the Greek Church and Mt. Athos, and believes the decision is due to some other factors outside the scope of their relationship.
The primate of the Greek Church Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens did note that implementation of the provisions of the decree is, for the time being, not compulsory. The question could be submitted again to the Holy Synod for further consideration.
Also commenting on the decree, Archimandrite Gregory (Zumis), abbot of Dochariou Monastery, said, “I see no reason to create such a distance between Athos and the Greek Church. The Holy Mountain is the joy of the Church and the Greek people. Why do they consider us foreigners? I see this decree as a reckless step.
“As I consider the Greek Church our mother, I will soften my ton and ask for a cancellation of this decree. Have you taken into account how many parishioners receive benefit from the Athonite fathers? Have you taken into account how many families have been saved from collapse due to the counsel of Athonites?
“Do not wipe the Holy Mountain from the map. We are the ships which save your flock after a shipwreck, and take them to the ships led by bishops.”
AgionOros also previously reported that the text of the Holy Synod’s decree “On Sacramental Actions on the Canonical Territory of the Church of Greece” explains that the new restrictions are a reciprocal measure, as hierarchs and clerics of the Greek Orthodox Church must receive the special permission of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to visit the Holy Mountain. The text also invokes the words of the Parable of the Tenants in which a man planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about (Mt. 21:33).
As the issue was not originally included on the Synod’s agenda for the day, the question of revising the decree was postponed until the Synod’s next meeting, according to Russian Athos.