Moscow, February 13, Interfax - The trip of a bishop from the new Ukrainian church (OCU) to Mount Athos was Constantinople's way of testing the waters and showed that Patriarch Bartholomew lacks authority among Athonite monks, according to the Moscow Patriarchate.
"A delegation from the OCU's sectarian alliance led by Pavel Yuristy, who considers himself a bishop, visited Mount Athos in early February. The sectarians' goal was to assert themselves by conducting joint prayer services with the heads of the monasteries most loyal to Istanbul," the head of the Russian Orthodox Church's Department for Church, Society and Media Relations, Vladimir Legoyda, wrote on his Telegram channel.
Constantinople decided "to probe Athonite sentiments through this pseudo-bishop from the Kiev Patriarchate who has become a media celebrity merely through such use. For if Yepifaniy 'himself' was, like Mr. Yuristy, hosted by so few major Athos monasteries, this would have made it too obvious what authority the Istanbul Patriarch really has at Athos, propped up solely by intrigues and protection from a well-known Western power," Legoyda wrote.
The delegation began its visit to Athos late last week. Some of the monasteries agreed to host them and even performed joint services with them, but at least three - Agiou Panteleimonos, Zographou and Docheiariou - shut their gates, and seven monks left the Vatopedi Monastery to protest the recognition of the OCU.