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April 26, 2009

The Ecumenical Patriarchate, Mount Athos and America

I think it is important to understand that the model the Ecumenical Patriarchate proposes for America has a firm foundation in the tradition of the Church. For those with a more traditional bent, I like to bring up the example of Mount Athos. Mount Athos is self-governed (autonomous) and part of the Hellenic Republic, but it is also under the direct jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. This is basically the same model that is being proposed for America.

Ignorance and fear have created a lot of misunderstanding however. One fear is that the jurisdictions in America will lose their identity (whether it be jurisdictional or ethnic) and be swallowed up into the culture of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This is a rhetorical lie being pushed by people who have other agendas opposed to the tradition of the Church. Again, when one looks to Mount Athos it is observed that there is not only Greek-speaking monasteries, but there is also Bulgarian, Russian, Serbian and Romanian speaking monasteries that follow their own traditions as well, even though they all fall under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. No identity is lost, no languages lost, and there is no authoritarian rule that all the monasteries must do as directed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has gone so far to accommodate the style and traditions of Mount Athos, in that it even allows them to use the Old Calendar even though in Constantinople the New Calendar is used. It is this similar open-minded model that is proposed for America and will hopefully be discussed in the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Synod.