Mt. Athos, July 9, 2019
As OrthoChristian previously reported, a delegation from the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) visited Mt. Athos for the third time in late June.
The schismatics have been warmly welcomed and even allowed to serve and commune at some monasteries but turned away at others, while others have allowed them to simply visit as they would any non-Orthodox visitor.
After the OCU reported that its delegation visited both Philotheou and Karakallou, known to be among the stricter and more traditional monasteries with a vocal stance against the schismatics, it became known that the delegation had entered the monasteries with other Greek pilgrims and thus were not officially received by the monasteries. Having learned that they were from the schismatic OCU, the monasteries informed them that they could not attend services or submit names for commemoration.
In addition to Philotheou and Karakallou, it has also become known that another Greek monastery, Xeropotamou, entirely forbids the schismatics from entering the territory of the monastery. All three monasteries are under the spiritual direction of the Elder Ephraim, the former abbot of Philotheou and founder of St. Anthony’s and many other monasteries in America and Canada.
Moscow priest Fr. Roman Kolesnikov recently visited the Holy Mountain with a group of pilgrims, where he inquired at several monasteries about their attitude towards the schismatics.
“The attitude is very mixed,” Fr. Roman said in an interview with Krestovsky Most. “Some of the monasteries have already defiled themselves by serving with the schismatics. Some are still undecided, and some have come out categorically against the legalization of the Ukrainian schismatics.”
The ruling body of Mt. Athos, the Sacred Community, divided on how to relate to the schismatics, resolved in late February to allow monastery to formulate its own position.
In particular, Fr. Roman notes that when they reached Xeropotamou, they were immediately asked where they are from. “Having learned that we’re from Russia, the monk receiving us explained that if we were from Ukraine, he would have asked which metropolitan we commemorate at the services, because they recognize Metropolitan Onuphry, and his opponents are not even allowed on the territory of the monastery.”
He notes that he was told the exact same thing at both Philotheou and Karakallou.
Further, Fr. Roman reports that St. Andrew’s Skete has taken an even stricter stance, not allowing anyone from Ukraine to spend the night. The monks there say the Ukrainians need to work out the situation among themselves first. The schismatics reported that they visited St. Andrew’s Skete, though they did not provide any details on what happened there.
The Russian St. Panteleimon’s also closes its doors to the schismatics, as Fr. Roman recalls.
The Greek Dochariou and the Bulgarian Zographou Monasteries have also refused to receive the schismatics, and it is known that the Serbian Hilandar Monastery takes the same stance.
While certain monasteries have welcomed the schismatics, the Sacred Community, made up of a representative from each of the 20 ruling monasteries, has grown weary of their behavior. In a recent letter to the Greek Foreign Minister, the Sacred Community expressed its indignation that the second delegation that visited in April, led by “Metropolitan” Mikhail Zinkevich, violated the Athonite charter which prohibits “all moral, religious, ecclesiastical, social, and nationalistic proselytizing, and/or propagandistic actions of any other nature.”
The delegation published photos with its members holding Ukrainian flags and they sang the Ukrainian national anthem while on the Holy Mountain. “This action is incompatible with the hesychastic, spiritual, and sacred character of our Holy Land and its thousand-year tradition, creates a dangerous precedent for the repetition of such actions by any party and the transfer of nationalist conflicts therein; and is completely contrary to the Charter of the Holy Mountain,” the Sacred Community writes.
Similarly, Fr. Roman also reports that the third schismatic delegation was shouting Ukrainian nationalist slogans from the summit of Mt. Athos.
“One of our pilgrims climbed to the top of the Holy Mountain, and a group of schismatics also went up there,” Fr. Roman notes. “They immediately started asking about politics. Our pilgrim responded that he did not wish to discuss these topics, as he come with a completely different purpose. He testifies that, having climbed to the summit, they began shouting, ‘Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!’”
“How much of a damaged mind do you have to have to desecrate a holy place with such words!” Fr. Roman exclaimed.
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