Breaking news today: the Russian Orthodox Church has broken ties with Orthodoxy’s leader Bartholomew and says Mount Athos is now closed to Russian Orthodox Christians from RussiaBartholomew October 7th 2011 on the pier in Ouranopolis – foto Wim Voogd
Ukraine secured approval on Thursday to establish an independent church in what Kiev says is a vital step against Russian meddling in its affairs, but the Russian clergy fiercely opposes the biggest split in Christianity for a thousand years.
At a three-day synod presided over by the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul, seat of the global spiritual leader of roughly 300 million Orthodox Christians, endorsed Ukraine’s request of Patriarch Filaret for an “autocephalous” (independent) church.
The Russian Orthodox Church says Mount Athos is also now closed to Russian Orthodox Christians from Russia. Patriarch Kirill’s press secretary, priest Alexander Volkov, has pointed out that Mount Athos is in the Moscow Patriarchate’s jurisdiction “with all the same consequences.”
Does this also mean that Russian and Ukrainian monks (or pilgrims) can no longer attend services together? It will be exciting to see how this works out on Mount Athos, I hope without any struggle.
Wim Voogd, 16/10
Sorry but there are inaccuracies here. The spokesman did not say that Athos is in the Moscow Patriarchate’s jurisdiction. As everyone knows, it is in the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Therein lies the problem, as the clergy and laity of the Moscow Patriarchate cannot now participate in the sacraments in the churches of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. That shouldn’t prevent them from visiting the Holy Mountain, but we shall see how it works out in practice. All very sad.
This is a very sad turn of events, most likely due secular forces pulling the strings of Church leaders to create division in Orthodoxy. We will continue to pray for unity in Orthodoxy.
I think Joseph Skinner explains it clearly. And I think also, there are in principle no consequences for Russian and Ukrainian monks living on Mt. Athos, for them changes nothing. Only Russian e.a. monks and pelgrims belonging to the Patriarchate of Moscow feel the consequences.
This russian website says even praying is not allowed, so a pelgrimage de facto forbidden for ‘Russians’: https://russian-faith.com/russian-christians-forbidden-pray-mount-athos-historically-holiest-site-orthodox-church-n1785
I haven’t seen any official confirmation that simply praying in the churches of the EP is forbidden to members of the Russian Orthodox Church. The cited article quotes the site of a newspaper that quotes a news agency report. Better wait and see.
It is in my opinion not just ‘quotes (from) the site of a newspaper that quotes…’. You may read in the article: ‘Members of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) are now forbidden to pray and receive communion in the monasteries and churches on Mount Athos, said Igor Yakimchuk (spokesman for Patriarch Kirill) and Alexander Volkov (secretary of the Moscow Department for External Church Relations). For prayer in any churches of the Constantinople Patriarchate, Russian Orthodox Christians will have to repent of this sin at confession.’ So words of the spokesman for Patriarch Kirill.
The article on Russian-Faith.com, which is not an official church website, is a just a translation of an article from the newspaper site kommersant.ru. That site references the Tass news agency for the alleged comments of the church spokesmen, but without a specific link. Probably the spokesmen have been misreported. Anyway, Metropolitan Hilarion, Head of the Foreign Relations Dept. of the ROC, has given an interview with the BBC in which he said there is no problem with clergy or lay people going to visit the monasteries of Athos, as long as the clergy don’t take an active part in the services and they and the people don’t take Communion.
“BBC: After the decision made by the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, a hot discussion began on such a question as prospects for pilgrimage to Holy Mountain Athos. There are different opinions. Some say that it is not recommended to anybody to pray on Mount Athos, others say it is permissible to pray on Athos but not for the clergy and the clergy will be punished for that. So, who can go to Athos; will any sanctions follow with regard to the clergy?
Met. Hilarion: Anyone can go to the Holy Mountain who has a Greek visa and permission to enter Athos. We can pray to God in any place on the Earth. …. For us, the rupture of communion means that we cannot celebrate divine offices in Athonite monasteries, nor can we take communion in them; however, we have an opportunity to visit these monasteries as believers and as tourists. That is, there is no rupture in human relations whatsoever.
BBC: And can the clergy visit monasteries on Athos?
Met. Hilarion: The clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church can visit them.”
It is hard to believe that at first the Russians put millions and millions (200 million?) in the renewal of the Panteleimonos monastery and other locations and now say that a pilgrimage is forbidden.
Metropolitan Hilarion, who is definitely an authoritative source, is saying that pilgrimage is not forbidden. That idea appears to be fake news.