By Hieromonk Loukas from Xenofontos Monastery, Mount Athos
We see with pain the joint effort of many who under the pretext of the church order, in essence, turn the body of Christ, the Church, into a theatre of national claims. This fury is mainly against our Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Our Ecumenical Patriarchate, always above all earthly claims and respecting the national entity and profile of each people, has granted autocephaly to each local Church from time to time, which was often heavy and unbearable for itself.
For example, the Autocephaly of the Church of Greece was not a joyful event or even self-evidently acceptable for the Patriarchate. However, the Ecumenical Patriarchate decided to grant autocephlay to the local Church with great sorrow for the sake of peace and its demands.
The Church of Albania was also resurrected with the joyful invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarch; the Ecumenical Patriarchate entrusted this difficult task to Anastasios, who was then Bishop of Androusa in the depths of the African continent, because the Patriarchate knew very well that he was the most suitable for this difficult task.
We all remember very well those difficult years in the midst of a totalitarian and precarious regime, the Holy Phanar dared to resurrect the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania from the ruins. I do not have time to tell about every autocephalous church; only the Phanar took the responsibility for its foundation.
If for all the other Churches the granting of autocephaly was worthy and just, what is the reason for not granting autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine? The Russian Orthodox Church reacted strongly to this event.
Of course, it comes as no surprise. We have known since the 16th century Russia’s aspiration to dominate everywhere. As we also know the coexistence and alignment of the Russian Orthodox Church with the purpose of its national interests.
We, the Mount Athos monks, know very well the plans of the Russians for Mount Athos, that is, the militarization of the Agios Panteleimon Monastery, from the arrival or, if I may put it that way, “landing” of thousands of “monks” who spread to every corner of Mount Athos —in concert with the Ottoman Empire regarding these expansionist tendencies as Mount Athos was under its rule— to the systematic alteration in the architecture of Mount Athos, in hagiography and in every form and manifestation of the Mount Athos tradition.
This happened to make Mount Athos a protectorate of Russia.
I expect I am stating the obvious, we all know these things very well. Fortunately, the Virgin Mary guarded Her Garden and was saved from this temptation after 1917.
As from perestroika years during the 1980s, Mount Athos experiences another extremely dangerous adventure with the imperialist plans of Moscow under the cloak of deep religiosity and monastic brotherhood.
Who is not aware of the Russians’ plan for the Holy Land, which created a whole company of friends (see Crusades) to extend their dominance there as well in lawful, and, above all, unlawful ways.
Moscow speaks of pressure exerted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate on other churches, however, the Ecumenical Patriarch states with grief and boast in Christ: “The only ones who support us are God and history. What is the power of the Besieged? But even among the Orthodox, who loves the Ecumenical Patriarchate truthfully and purely?
The Church of Moscow turned against the Mother Church. It forgot that this Church too was born to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It also wants to ignore the dependence of the Church of Ukraine on the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It shuts its eyes to the historical truth and uses the law of the strongest to subdue every helpless opponent.
Who is not aware that it considers the Ecumenical Patriarchate to be the opponent and undermines it in order to take over the “leadership” of the Orthodox Church!
Although besieged and captured by the Turkish for more than 500 years, he Ecumenical Patriarchate does not grovel to the conqueror and any barbaric nation, which seek the war and conflict. That is why it does not kneel before the unreasonable demands of those who have the power, knowing very well that “some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our Godhese in a chariot and these in horses, and we in the name of the Lord our God will grow.”
Dedicated to the principles of its church responsibility and tradition, it wants to save the flock.
Russia disregards many millions of believers, who for many and serious reasons do not want to belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, and condemns them to eternal damnation simply for its national interests.
Who is not aware that many Ukrainians convert to Unites in order not to belong to the Russian Orthodox Church? But the Russian Orthodox Church shuts its eyes to them and becomes a step-mother.
It, therefore, invokes some rules of the Church to use them as it wants. Interpreting these rules, Saint Nikodimos of Mount Athos uses the Economy to save the flock. The Saint Basil the Great has the same position for serious heresies.
Finally, I would like to remind you of the view of Saint Justin of Ćelije. The saint said: “I sacrifice everything for the rules of the Church; but for an image of God, who is man, I sacrifice all the rules.”
It is time for every Orthodox, and especially those in power, to understand not only the fratricidal, if not maternicidal, attitude of the Church of Moscow and to join hands with the truth and justice represented and propagated by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Mother Church of us all.
We glorified God by seeing the Patriarch of Alexandria, the Archbishops of Athens and of Cyprus to commemorate the canonical Metropolitan of Ukraine, Epifaniy, in line with the just decision of the Great Church of Christ.
May the other Holy Churches not deprive us of this joy and hope of the unity of the Holy Body of the Savior Christ.