Moscow, February 11, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church has called on monasteries on Mt. Athos not to have communion with the new church of Ukraine (OCU) and thanked all the monks there who have refused to host the delegation of the OCU.
Representatives of the new Ukrainian church led by Bishop Pavel Yuristy began their visit to Athos at the end of last week. Some monks agreed to host them and even conducted joint services with them, but at least three monasteries - the Russian St. Panteleimon Monastery, Zograf, and Dokhiar - closed their doors to the guests, and seven monks left the Vatopedi Monastery to protest the recognition of the OCU.
"I sincerely hope that Athos will make the only right choice, in favor of canonical order, in this situation in which it has unexpectedly found itself. And I thank all Athos monks and hegumens who have already made this choice," Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, wrote in an article published on Jesus-portal.ru.
The Russian Orthodox Church loves Athos and was happy to visit it while that was possible, but the reason for this love is not its ancientness, architecture, or beautiful landscapes, but primarily because "Athos remains a stronghold of church truth for millions of Orthodox Christians," Metropolitan Hilarion wrote.
The unique spiritual atmosphere of Athos formed over many generations, and many monks there "are justly concerned that it will be destroyed if Athos is opened to women," as European politicians have suggested repeatedly, he wrote.
"But does prayer communion with schismatics not pose even greater dangers to monastic life as a whole? Will Athos not turn into salt that has lost its force if the murky waters of the schism fill this holy place?" the metropolitan wrote.