Kiev, June 4, 2019
The ongoing Ukrainian Church crisis continues to cause a disturbance on the Holy Mountain, where many monks are caught between the long-standing Athonite tradition of guarding the purity of the faith and the unity of the Church on one hand, and obedience to their hierarch, Patriarch Bartholomew, on the other.
Recall that Archimandrite Ephraim, the abbot of Vatopedi Monastery, was threatened with defrocking if he did not attend the February 3 enthronement of “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko in Kiev, and ended up suffering a heart attack from pressure and stress of the situation, though other Athonites did attend.
Later, in an attempt to prove their legitimacy, two official delegations from the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” visited Mt. Athos, with some monasteries receiving them and even allowing them to serve Liturgy and others rejecting them. Meanwhile, although the Sacred Community has discussed the matter several times, it had not previously been able to come to a consensus on how to handle members of the OCU, leaving it up to each monastery to decide.
Now, however, the abbots of the monasteries of Mt. Athos have asked His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the primate of the canonical Ukrainian Church, to issue pilgrims certificates confirming their belonging to the canonical Church, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists, which published a letter sent to every diocesan bishop from the chancellery of the Kiev Metropolis.
As stated in the document, the initiative comes from the inhabitants of the Holy Mountain themselves:
The chancellery of the Kiev Metropolis of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church brings to your attention the blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, according to which, in response to an appeal from the abbots of Holy Mount Athos, the clergy, monks, and laity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church who go on pilgrimage to Holy Mount Athos must have a certificate of belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The certificate indicating the period of stay must be issued on diocesan letterhead, signed by the diocesan hierarch and certified with a stamp.
Recall that 12 Athonite elders from various sketes and cells wrote to the Patriarchate of Constantinople in mid-March in defense of the canonical Ukrainian Church, confessing that they continue to recognize the Ukrainian schismatics as schismatics.
The Patriarchate of Jerusalem is also making a special effort to strictly verify the jurisdiction of all clergy from Ukraine after schismatics attempted to serve at the Holy Sepulchre.
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