Rift Grows: Church of Russia Prohibits Pilgrimage to Mount Athos after Schism

The Orthodox Church of Russia has issued a decision prohibiting Russian pilgrims from visiting Mount Athos in Greece. This order follows the recent interruption of relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople.

Russian church authorities severed ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate over the latter’s decision to grant independence to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which Moscow does not recognize.

As reported by romfea.gr, the Russian Orthodox Church has banned Russian pilgrims from confessing and receiving the Holy Communion in Mount Athos, which is under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

According to the BBC, Russian businessmen have spent at least $200 million in 2005 to conserve the monasteries in Mount Athos, repairing roads, building chapels, and restoring damaged buildings.

The BBC further reports that the Russian Church is fully aware of the significant amounts of money that flow to Mount Athos from Russian Orthodox faithful, a fact which was addressed by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the President of the Moscow Patriarchate’s external relations department.

“I would recommend now [Russian entrepreneurs] turn their attention and invest in the Russian monasteries of their own country,” said Metropolitan Hilarion in a statement. “We have our own monasteries of great need, such as the Solovki Monastery, the Valaam Monastery, the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius and many others.”

“If there is a desire to give money for a sacred purpose, we have many more holy pilgrimages and monasteries than Mount Athos,” Metropolitan Hilarion added.