Athos abbots refuse to serve with monks from monasteries that recognize Ukrainian schismatics

Mt. Athos, April 14, 2023

Monks were turned away from Philotheou Monastery. Photo: Wikipedia Monks were turned away from Philotheou Monastery. Photo: Wikipedia     

Mt. Athos has been divided since the Patriarchate of Constantinople created the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” and gave it “autocephaly” in late 2018-early 2019.

While the majority of the 20 ruling monasteries have refused to concelebrate with visiting schismatics, a handful of the monasteries have, in fact, served with them. The Sacred Community—the governing body of Mt. Athos consisting of one representative of each monastery—essentially decided to allow each monastery to chart its own course on the matter.

However, the issue remains a sore point on Mt. Athos to this day.

During the festive Divine services for the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos at Philotheou Monastery last Friday, Abbot Nikodemos told the clergy sent from Pantokrator and Xenophontos, both of which have entered into communion with the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” that they could not concelebrate in the Divine Liturgy, reports and several other outlets.

The monks aren’t heretics, but Abbot Nikodemos considers that they have concelebrated with schismatics and so are not welcome to serve at Philotheou, he told them.

Philotheou has always stood against the schismatics, and Abbot Nikodemos reportedly told the given monks that they couldn’t serve after speaking to Elder Joseph, the abbot of Xeropotamou Monastery. It is known that the abbots of other monasteries—Zographou, Hilandar, Karakallou, and St. Panteleimon’s—take the same stance.

Elder Joseph and the others were moved to take an even firmer stand—refusing to serve not only with the schismatics, but also those Athonites who have served with them—after seeing the terrible persecution of the Kiev Caves Lavra and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in recent months.

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