Metropolitan Hilarion—the head of Russia’s Department for External Church Relations—has confirmed that Patriarch Kirill allows Russian Orthodox Christians to take communion at St. Panteleimon’s monastery on Mount Athos.
This comes as welcome news to many Orthodox Christians, who had considered that communion might be completely off limits to pilgrims visiting the holy mountain.
The Patriarch of Constantinople had recently joined himself to a schismatic church group that engages in sacrilegious activities, and he claimed to remove the Ukrainian Church from Russian Orthodox Church authority. Thus the churches in Constantinople and Moscow are now in schism with one another. The schism has already encouraged various priests and even entire congregations to abandon the Greek Orthodox jurisdiction and to show their solidarity with the Russian Orthodox Church.
Thankfully, there is still one monastery on Mount Athos where Orthodox Christians have a blessing to take communion. In a breaking-news edition of the Church & World program on Russian television, Metropolitan Hilarion said,
“At the most recent meeting of the Supreme Diocesan Assembly in Moscow, when Patriarch Kirill was asked a direct question, he said is it permissible to partake of the Eucharist at the St. Panteleimon monastery on Mt. Athos. He said that, from his point of view, the laity can take communion there.”
In his opinion, this decision suggests that the Russian Orthodox Church considers St. Panteleimon’s monastery to be Russian. Metropolitan Hilarion added,
“It belongs to the Church of Constantinople, like all Athos monasteries, but we know that this monastery was built by Russian monks with Russian money, the Russian and Ukrainian monastic brotherhood is there, and worship is performed there in the Slavonic language. So when laymen from the Russian Orthodox Church make a pilgrimage to this monastery, they are allowed to take communion there, and to participate in the holy mysteries of Christ.”
In reference to the monastery of St. Panteleimon, the hierarch concluded with the following wish for the future:
“I hope that monastic life there will continue to develop, and monks—including those from the Russian Orthodox Church—will be able to continue coming there.”
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