Mt. Athos, January 31, 2019
As OrthoChristian reported yesterday, two abbots from Mt. Athos will be accompanying Patriarch Bartholomew to the enthronement of “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, the head of the new Ukrainian schismatic group, on February 3 in Kiev.
Today, the Greek site Romfea reports that those two are Abbot Ephraim of Vatopedi and Abbot Alexios of Xenophontos.
According to exclusive information from Constantinople, Pat. Bartholomew asked them to join his delegation to Kiev in order to mitigate the impression created by the Holy Mountain’s decision as a whole not to send a delegation.
At an extraordinary session on January 28, the Sacred Community of Mt. Athos, consisting of a representative of each of the 20 ruling monasteries, voted against sending a delegation, though 5 monasteries—Iveron, Stavronikita, Xenophontos, Koutloumousiou, and Pantocrator—voted in favor.
Meanwhile, other monasteries, including Philotheou and Karakallou, have said that if Epiphany Dumenko comes to Mt. Athos, they will close their gates to him.
It was a hieromonk and calligrapher of Xenophontos that prepared the tomos of autocephaly that Pat. Bartholomew gave to the Ukrainian schismatics, with the blessing of Abbot Alexios.
Interestingly, Vatopedi was not among the monasteries that voted to send a delegation, but now its abbot is attending the enthronement as part of the delegation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Moreover, Abbot Ephraim has, in fact, spoken strongly against the Ukrainian schismatics in the past, imploring Ukrainians to remain faithful to the canonical Church.
In March 2015, when His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the primate of the canonical Ukrainian Church, was visiting Mt. Athos, Fr. Ephraim 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 Mountain 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 abbot said.
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