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June 1, 2010

Monasticism in the Greek Archdiocese of America

There is some confusion among those in the Greek Archdiocese of America regarding how the monasteries of the same jurisdiction are regulated. This is clearly put forward in the Charter of 2003 under Article 21. Though early on there were talks of the monasteries functioning as Athonite communities, we see from the Charter regulations that this is clearly not the case due to the impracticality of such a proposal. Though Mount Athos is under the direct jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, it also has a certain autonomous governance by the Holy Community (Ιερά Κοινότητα) which consists of a representative from each of the twenty monasteries, an executive committee of four members known as the Holy Administration (Ιερά Επιστασία) with the Protos as its head, and a Civil Governor appointed by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs to supervise the function of the institutions and the public order. In contrast, each monastery in the Greek Archdiocese of America functions "under the direct canonical jurisdiction and supervision of the Hierarch in whose ecclesiastical jurisdiction they are located," thus not sharing the same autonomy that Athos possesses. And of course, the differences between the monastic communites of Athos and the monastic communities of America are much wider on the everyday practical level as well.

Article 21
Holy Monasteries

a. Monasteries and organized communities of monastics function according to the long established, canonical tradition and practice of the Church. As such, they are ecclesiastical institutions, functioning under the direct canonical jurisdiction and supervision of the Hierarch in whose ecclesiastical jurisdiction they are located.

b. Monasteries are founded by the local Hierarch, following approval of the Eparchial Synod. Canonically, their administration and financial affairs are the responsibility of the local Hierarch, whose name is to be commemorated during Divine Worship.

c. The Monasteries that operate in the United States of America continue the long established monastic life and witness. They function according to the prevailing Monastic Law and the letter and the spirit of the Regulations that define their operation.

d. Regulations for the establishment, organization and operation of Monasteries shall be promulgated by the Eparchial Synod and approved by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.