In what is becoming the Second Great Schism, the Russian Orthodox Church has now forbidden Russian Orthodox Christians from praying at the monasteries and churches in what is regarded as one of the holiest sites among Orthodox Christians:
Members of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) are now forbidden to pray and receive communion in the monasteries and churches on Mount Athos, said Igor Yakimchuk (spokesman for Patriarch Kirill) and Alexander Volkov (secretary of the Moscow Department for External Church Relations). For prayer in any churches of the Constantinople Patriarchate, Russian Orthodox Christians will have to repent of this sin at confession.
Regarding the broken relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and Constantinople, Mr. Volkov explained that “from now on, until Constantinople changes its position, Russian Orthodox Christians will not be allowed to participate in worship, communion, or prayer in churches under the Patriarch of Constantinople. Nor will they be allowed to participate in any other sacraments.”
“For refusing to follow these prohibitions, Russian Orthodox clergy will be censured, and for laity, repentance and confession will be required, due to their disobedience to the Church,” Mr. Yakimchuk told Interfax.
The priest noted that this ban also applies to all existing temples of Istanbul, the only active temple in Anatolia, in Greek Crete, and the Dodecanese islands (including Rhodes).
Recall that on October 11, the Patriarchate of Constantinople claimed to abolish the document transitioning the Kiev Metropolis to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, and presumed to remove the anathema from Philaret, the so-called Patriarch of Kiev, who is not recognized by any other church jurisdictions in the Orthodox world. In response, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church announced a complete break in communion with Constantinople. (source, source)
The significance of the ban on Russian Orthodox from praying at Mt. Athos cannot be understated. The mountain, which sits on the Chalkidiki Peninsula in northeastern Greece, is similar to what Mecca is to Islam, in that only men over the age of 18 who are a member of any of the Orthodox churches can enter.
Mt. Athos’ history is ancient, with Christians living there since some of the earliest days of Christian history. Following the persecutions of Justinian I in the 4th century, the gradually declining pagan population on Mt. Athos was finally erased and the area became a center of monasticism and throughout the last millenia and a half has maintained itself as such.
There are twenty monasteries in the area representing the different national-religious identities of the various orthodox churches. The Russians have had a presence since the time that the Patriarch of Constantinople sought the Pope’s help against the Muslims that resulted in the Crusades at St. Panteleimon’s monastery, and they have maintained said presence through today, with even President Putin visiting the monastery in 2005.
The history of Russian Orthodoxy cannot be separated from her presence on Mt. Athos, for her presence there is a testament to her communion with the rest of the “orthodox world.”
Russian Orthodoxy makes up somewhere between 22% to 38% of all Orthodox Christians. The second largest denomination are the Ukrainians at 10% to 13%, and then the Romanians at 6%. The fact that it was not the Greeks, but it was the Russian Orthodox Patriarch, who gave the order barring Russian Orthodox Christians from Mt. Athos is the direct acknowledgement of not only real and serious schism between the Orthodox, but is a revolutionary act as it says that those who say they are Orthodox and recognize the validity of the new autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church or remain in communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople are not true Orthodox Christians in the same way of what happened in Europe during the Protestant Revolution with Luther in Germany, Zwingli and Calvin in Switzerland, and King Henry VIII in England. It is an admission of a Second Great Schism taking place.
What is happening in the Orthodox Church today is near exactly what happened in Western Europe during the 16th century. Just as it was Germanic, and Anglo-Saxon nationalism that was used to fracture the Western Church for political reasons using theology as a cover that resulted in the litany of wars that followed in the later decades and century, so is the same happening with the Orthodox except this time they can no longer use either theology or the Pope to cover for this problem.
A curious point that one notes among Orthodox Christians who actually practice their faith, and what one finds in particular among American converts to Orthodoxy, is a Protestant-like criticism of the Catholic Faith except instead of using “sola scriptura,” the weapon used is “tradition,” where Catholics and “the Pope” will be violently attacked for being against “tradition”. However, if one seriously looks at the points raised, one finds that many of the issues are (a) points of emphasis that differ in so far as how they are perceived but not in the essence of the reality being expressed, or (b) are theological differences over which there is no absolutely settled “correct” view that if one were to accept would bring a man into heresy. Two simple examples are for the former, the “filioque” argument and in for the latter, the “essence versus energies” debate of Gregory Palamas in Hesychasm.
In the modern sense, there is much critical that needs to be said about the last century’s attempts to “modernize” the Church in ways that many Catholics of good will have already expressed their opposition to and that in time, said attempts will likely return to the dustbin of history’s previous attempts to interject bad ideas into the Church. Such is not uncommon throughout history, and as many have correctly stated, there needs to be a re-orientation towards traditional practices. However, this is not the reason why the Orthodox must emphasize “tradition”, for just as the Protestants used the idea of “Bible alone” as the point of justification for rebellion against Rome that was a dual theological rebellion resulting in heresy, Orthodox Christianity in the eastern world used the idea of “tradition” to advance nationalism and tribalism that brought about the schism with Rome.
This is also the reason why the Church emphasizes that the issue with the Orthodox is not one of heresy, but one of schism and even allows eastern Catholics to receive communion within Orthodox Churches. The separation is not rooted in theological conflict, but rather is the attempt to use theology to say Rome is in a state of heresy so that they can ignore Matthew 16 for tribalistic reasons.
While the Orthodox have done this for centuries, they now find themselves in a conundrum because the same nationalism around which Orthodoxy is centered is now consuming their own churches.
As it has been noted, the push for the Patriarch to recognize Ukraine’s church and given the destructive impact it has had on the Church is certainly not being done for any theological good. It is being done to advance nationalism because Turkey and the USA back the split with the Ukrainian Church, and as it has been noted, the Ukrainian nationalists are neo-nazis backed as a part of Operation Gladio against Russia as part of the Decline of Russia project.
The Catholic Church has many issues that are well-known and visible to all, and one of these issues is indeed nationalism, something she has faced before and is having to face again. However, as the Catholic Faith is inherently defined in terms of universality and not by nationalistic identity, while individuals and groups can be divided by tribalism it does so in contradiction to the faith and can be easily pointed out and condemned. This is far harder with the Orthodox, for while the Orthodox also emphasize the same theological points, the separation of the Orthodox was rooted in nationalism and national identity is inseparable from the practice of the religion itself for many, thus tying “Blut und Boden” to the religion. It is this blood-and-soil nationalism united with religion that the USA, Germany, and Turkey have been able to exploit to divide Russia from within, using her own religion against her and forcing her, the largest Orthodox body, to isolate herself from the rest of the Orthodox world:
Recently, there has been a dangerous debate between the Moscow Orthodox Patriarchate and the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul.
The reason for this was that the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, which was in conflict with Russia, left its Moscow Orthodox Patriarchate and declared its autonomy (independence).
To declare its independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Turkey’s Istanbul Fener Greek Patriarchate ‘as defined, but the world is known as the spiritual leader of Orthodox Istanbul-based permission from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, it was supposed to receive more precisely check.
The 12 metropolises, headed by the Istanbul Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, accepted and approved the autosexuality of the Ukrainian Church after three days of work. This decision of the Patriarchate led to the violent reaction of the Moscow Orthodox Patriarch Kiril and threatened to separate the Moscow Patriarchate from the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
If these threats of Moscow are realized, it will be the second major division of Christianity, which has been divided into Catholics and Orthodox since the Roman Empire in 1054, and is referred to the history of religions as the ‘Great Schism’ (separation of eastern and western churches). (source, source)
Christianity survived thousands of years in Iraq, and it was destroyed not by Muslims, but by Americans in a period of fifteen years for the purpose of causing a crisis to revive nationalism.
Islam attempted to invade Europe for centuries, and it never penetrated throughout the continent, until the Americans working with Germany trafficked countless people into the country is what is nothing less than a government-backed population transfer in order to instigate nationalism.
Eastern Orthodoxy insisted on a quasi-tribalistic union against that of the Church and Sacred Scripture (see Matthew 16) until the Americans, Germans, and Turks pressure the Orthodox using said nationalism as a political force, and have effectively been able to cause the Second Great Schism within the Church.
It is already an unspoken secret for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear that a major war is being planned right now by the financial and industrial arms that control the government of the world that will be similar to the Third World War, with Germany, Japan, Turkey, and for now the USA on one side with Russia and her allies on the other. This division pushed in the Orthodox Church, just like how the Protestant conflict was the precursor to the Thirty Years War, is happening now.
As always, prepare for what is coming, and in the name of mercy do remember to pray for and seek the union of all Christians, especially the Catholic-Orthodox issue, that some might be spared the justice that is going to befall the human race for her sins.