Moscow, December 29, Interfax - Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of the Synodal Deparment for External Church Relations, has confirmed that Patriarch Kirill has allowed laymen of the Russian Orthodox Church to have communion in the St. Panteleimon Monastery on Athos.
"The holy patriarch said at the most recent session of the Higher Church Council of the city of Moscow, responding to a direct question as to whether people can have communion in the Russian St. Panteleimon Monastery, that he believes laymen can have communion there," the metropolitan said in an extraordinary program Church and the World aired on Rossiya-24 television.
This shows that the Russian Orthodox Church sees St. Panteleimon Monastery as Russian, he said.
"It belongs to the Constantinople Church, like all Athos monasteries, but we know that this monastery was built by Russian monks with Russian money, Russian and Ukrainian monks live there, services are conducted there in Slavic, and laymen from the Russian Orthodox Church who will visit this monastery can have communion there," Metropolitan Hilarion said.
There are several monasteries on Athos that "have lost their Russianness" and they are populated by Greek monks, specifically, St. Andrew's Monastery, which is located in the very center of Athos near the capital of the Holy Mountain, and St. Ilia's Monastery," there are Greek monks in both monasteries now."
"But I hope that will not happen to St. Panteleimon's Monastery. I hope monastic life will continue there and it will develop and monks from the Russian Orthodox Church can come there," the hierarch said.
On October 11, the Synod in Istanbul abolished its 1686 decree handing the Kiev Metropolitanate over to Moscow, announced the creation of a mission in Kiev, and rehabilitated the leaders of the non-canonical Orthodox churches in Ukraine. The Moscow Patriarchate's Synod did not recognize those decisions and responded by fully severing ties with Constantinople.