Mt. Athos, December 14, 2017
Mt. Athos is very grieved about the schism in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, created and continued by the self-styled “Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko of the unrecognized “Kiev Patriarchate.” Abbot Ephraim of the Athonite monastery of Vatopedi spoke about this trouble in an address to Ukrainians published on the YouTube channel of 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,” the Athonite 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.
Fr. Ephraim ended his address with a few words on the war in Ukraine:
“I really grieve when I hear of the war going on in Ukraine. We great sorrow we pray for all the victims who have left this life in this country. I appeal to our fraternal Ukrainians: Know that problems are not resolved with the help of fire and weapon, but only with the help of prayer and through proper dialogue.
Christ is Risen!”
This is not the first time that Abbot Ephraim has addressed himself to the Ukrainian people regarding the schism Church there. 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.”
The interview with Archimandrite Ephraim is the third in the series “A Word to Ukrainians,” with previous interviews coming from Metropolitan Nicholas of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki of the Greek Orthodox Church and His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem.