Minsk, July 18, 2016
A film has appeared online in which modern elders of Mt. Athos discuss an Orthodox strategy to end abortion.
On July 12, 2016, the Orthodox Church commemorated the Holy Elder Paisios the Athonite for the second time since his canonization in 2015. In honor of this feast, the makers of the film Athos—FOR LIFE! posted its full version on Youtube for free viewing: https://youtu.be/jHb8sXo1JrM.
The fifty-eight-minute film, Athos—FOR LIFE! The Testament of Venerable Paisios the Athonite, was shot by the Sobor.by studio of the Minsk parish of the Joy of All Who Sorrow, jointly with the Eastern European office of the Russian Orthodox Soyuz TV channel (Minsk, Belarus), with the support of the Shate-M Plus Belarusian company, as well as the support of the For Life autonomous nonprofit organization for the 1000th anniversary of the Russian Orthodox presence on Holy Mount Athos. A family of Belarusian benefactors, Constantine and Alla Shavel, also supported the realization of the project. The film authors are Belarusian journalists—head of the Eastern Europe’s office of the Soyuz Orthodox TV channel, Artem Makhakeyev, and chief of the Belarusian Orthodox news website Sobor.by, Matvey Rodov. The initiator and author of the project concept is the leader of the For Life international movement, Sergei Chesnokov.
Why is St. Paisios of Mt. Athos the focus of attention in this film? Due to a small but very important text attributed to this saint on how the Orthodox Church ought to organize its battle against abortion. This text can be found here: https://yadi.sk/i/VZh-jp0Jgkqy2
An outstanding Athonite ascetic of our days, St. Paisios was canonized on January 13, 2015, by the Patriarchate of Constantinople and this was recognized in May of the same year by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Both in his lifetime and after his repose in 1994, Venerable Paisios enjoyed indisputable spiritual authority with all those with sincere faith in Christ—ordinary people and prominent figures alike. Many famous people from Greece asked the great Athonite ascetic how to stop this terrible evil of our age—infanticide, or abortion. In response to one Greek deputy, the holy elder described in detail how politicians, health care workers, and the Orthodox Church should organize the modern pro-life campaign and secure the legislative prohibition of abortions.
Venerable Paisios believed that in the countries with centuries-old Orthodox heritage, political figures allied with the Church and the medical community must press for legal protection of babies’ lives before their birth. To deputies of the Greek Parliament, he proposed a concrete action plan to change public awareness regarding the evil of abortion, believing that the realization of this plan could lead to a legal ban on abortion. This same plan was supported by monks of many monasteries on Holy Mount Athos.
The film Athos—FOR LIFE! is based primarily on interviews with elders of authority, confessors, and monks—including those who rarely allow themselves to be filmed. Archimandrite Ephraim (Vatopedi Monastery), Archimandrite Grigorios (Docheiariou Monastery), Archimandrite Parthenius (Agiou Pavlou Monastery), confessors of the Russian St. Panteleimon’s Monastery, the Bulgarian Zograf Monastery, the Serbian Hilandar Monastery, the Romanian Skete Prodromos, and others shared their opinions on legal abortions.
In November 2015, the first advance copy of the film, Athos—FOR LIFE! The Testament of Venerable Paisios the Athonite, was given to the Serbian President’s wife, Dragica Nikolic, during her visit to the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Minsk.
The first screening of the film took place in Vladivostok. The screening proved impactful and was followed by a lively discussion of concrete steps that can be made in defense of human life before birth. The film is being presented in this same format in many dioceses and at parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in a great many cities and towns of Russia, the Ukraine, and Belarus.
In Moscow, the film was presented on March 30, 2016, at the Moscow Regional Duma as part of the conference, Therefore Choose Life, That Both Thou and Thy Seed May Live (Deut. 30:19), organized by the Duma spokesman Igor Bryntsalov with the participation and blessing of Metropolitan Yuvenaly of Krutitsa and Kolomna, the Patriarchal Vicar of the Diocese for the Moscow region.
On April 9, 2016, with the blessing of Patriarch Irinej of Serbia, the film was first screened in the Serbian capital of Belgrade, and the patriarch himself was interviewed by the film authors (this interview was included in its epilogue).
The film has already been translated into Serbian, while English and Greek translations are underway. The Publishing Council of the Belarusian Orthodox Church has recommended distribution of this film.
The address of the official group of the Athos – FOR LIFE! film in the VKontakte social network: https://vk.com/afon_za
The film trailer (nine minutes in length): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ftr9swsY9Yw
The link for downloading of the full version of the film: https://yadi.sk/i/S8B8Gq9WpLyFd