Mt. Athos, September 22, 2018
The Ukrainian Church should, as far as possible, preserve its unity with the Moscow Patriarchate, Archimandrite Parthenios (Murelatos), the abbot of the Athonite Monastery of St. Paul, believes.
At 87 years old, Fr. Parthenios is one of the oldest inhabitants of the Holy Mountain. He settled on Mt. Athos in 1954 and has served as the abbot of St. Paul’s for 40 years. St. Pau’s Monastery is known as the home of the great relic of the gift of the Magi.
“I think that ecclesiastical self-rule in the form of autocephaly is a good thing in and of itself, but when there is peace, when this issue does not become a question of dividing people—the flock.” the abbot said, as reports Archpriest Vladimir Vigiliansky on his Facebook page.
“Therefore, wisdom probably suggests how far it is possible to preserve unity with the Moscow Patriarchate. In my opinion, all the countries of the former Union should be united in the Russian Orthodox Church,” Archimandrite Parthenios added.
Highlighting the universal character of the Ukrainian question, the Athonite elder stressed, “If Ukraine enters Europe, worse things will befall it than did Greece. Therefore, we must be very careful. We must pray to God, to the Most Holy Theotokos, to the saints. Only the Lord can deliver us from this difficult situation in which we now find ourselves.”
And speaking of our modern age in general, Fr. Parthenios said, “The new era will destroy everything. It will destroy the family, it will try to destroy the Church, it will destroy everything so that nothing remains. People are moving towards evil and they’re doing so at breakneck speed. Who can maintain this speed? Only the good God who upholds the world.”
And in a sobering warning, he added, “There’s a storm coming that is more terrible than communism… What’s coming now is worse. May the Lord save us all!”
Archimandrite Parthenios is not the only Athonite abbot to speak out on the Ukrainian matter. Archimandrite Ephraim of Vatopedi has also been vocal on the matter. In March 2015, when His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, the head of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, was visiting Mt. Athos, the elder stated, “With a heavy heart I am anxious about the present state of Ukraine and from Holy Mount Athos I am asking the Ukrainian people to remain faithful to the canonical Church, the canonical primate and the canonical Synod. We want Ukrainian residents to support the canonical Church. It is important for one’s salvation to obey the canonical Church.”
And in an address to the Ukrainian people in 2017, Fr. Ephraim noted that the issue affects all of Mt. Athos, saying the Holy Moutanin is very grieved about the schism in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. According to the abbot, the schism cuts like scissors, and he who went into schism must understand that he is outside of the fold of the Church. “If someone is outside of the Church … he cannot attain holiness,” he said.
“Therefore, we entreat all of our brothers who have left the canonical Church, we appeal and we entreat that they would return to the womb of the canonical Orthodox Church,” the elder said.
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