Mt. Athos, November 14, 2018
Several Greek monasteries on Mt. Athos have added a special petition to the Litany of Peace in all of their services to specifically pray for His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the head of the canonical Ukrainian Church, and for his much-suffering flock.
In an interview published on Foma in Ukraine on Monday, His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil and Bovary, the Chancellor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, spoke about current relations between the Ukrainian Church and Mt. Athos.
Thousands of Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Christians go on pilgrimage to Mt. Athos, which is under the jurisdiction of Constantinople, every year. However, the Russian Church, of which the Ukrainian Church is an autonomous, self-governing part, broke communion with Constantinople on October 15, which the Ukrainian Church confirmed yesterday, due to unilateral Constantinople’s interference in ecclesiastical life in Ukraine.
“We know that the majority of the abbots of the Athonite monasteries do not agree with the anti-canonical decisions of the Phanar,” Met. Anthony said.
“In several monasteries—Greek ones, by the way—they have included a special petition in the Litany of Peace in the morning and evening services: ‘For His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry with his suffering flock.,’” he explained, adding, “We are very grateful to the Athonites for their brotherly love and prayers.”
He also noted that while sacramental communion was broken with Constantinople, the faithful of the Ukrainian Church are still welcome to go on pilgrimage to Mt. Athos to pray, seek counsel, and venerate the innumerable spiritual treasures housed there.
No official response has come from the Sacred Community of Mt. Athos on the Ukrainian issue yet, though individual abbots have spoken out over the past few years, most recently Archimandrite Parthenios (Murelatos), one of the oldest inhabitants of the Holy Mountain and the abbot of the Monastery of St. Paul, who expressed his belief that the Ukrainian Church should maintain its unity with the Moscow Patriarchate.
Also, in March 2015, when Met. Onuphry was visiting Mt. Athos, Archimandrite Ephraim of Vatopedi 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 elder said.
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