Photo: – 16/9/17

As reported yesterday, in a major decision, the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church released a decree Wednesday that allows abbots, hieromonks, and simple monks to visit and offer lectures in Greek cities and churches only by permission of the Holy Synod, rather than the local hierarch whose metropolis they wish to visit.

The synod’s decision has already been sent to the Archdiocese of Athens, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the Sacred Community and all the holy monasteries of Mt. Athos, where a response is being prepared.

As AgionOros reports, the text of the Holy Synod’s decree “On Sacramental Actions on the Canonical Territory of the Church of Greece” explains that the new restrictions are a reciprocal measure, as hierarchs and clerics of the Greek Orthodox Church must receive the special permission of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to visit the Holy Mountain. The text also invokes the words of the Parable of the Tenants in which a man planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about (Mt. 21:33).

In an interview with Romfea, the hierarch of one of the “New Territories” dioceses (Greek metropolinates nominally under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch) pointed to what he sees as an illogic in the document, stating, “Athonites are under the Ecumenical Patriarchate—why should we ask permission from the Holy Synod?”

The bishop called the decision “unacceptable” and stressed that it could lead to strained relations between the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Greek Church.

Romfea also notes that not only does the synod’s new decision limit the Athonites, but it limits the hierarchs who are no longer free to invite clerics and lecturers to their churches without permission.

The faithful have also expressed the concern that the decision will cause great discomfort within the Church, but also in the world that thirsts for Mt. Athos’ voices and experiences that the monks bring to the troubled world.