On November 12
Patriarch Bartholomew participated in the Vespers service at the
Catholic Abbey of Our Lady of St. Rémy in Rochefort, Belgium, together
with Archimandrite Alexios, the abbot of Xenophontos Monastery, and
Hieromonk Theophilos of Pantocrator Monastery, both on Mt. Athos.
According to a new report from the Union of Orthodox Journalists
during his trip to Mt. Athos the previous month, Pat.
Bartholomew attempted to convince several Athonite abbots and monks
that there are no dogmatic differences between Orthodoxy and
Catholicism, and that reunion with the Catholic church is
Pat. Bartholomew expressed his personal convictions during a private
talk at Pantocrator Monastery with the brethren and guests of the
monastery, including other Athonite abbots. Eyewitnesses report that
Pat. Bartholomew’s security did not allow anyone to record the
In his opinion, the division that now exists between Orthodoxy and
Catholicism is merely a matter of historical events, not dogmatic
Catholics “are just as Christian as we are,” Pat. Bartholomew
emphasized, adding that the recent gift of the relics of St. Peter
from Pope Francis is proof of the Catholic church’s nearness to
According to the UOJ’s sources, Pantocrator abbot Archimandrite
Gabriel, Xenophontos abbot Archimandrite Alexios, Vatopedia abbot
Archimandrite Ephraim, the brethren of several monasteries, and other
guests were all present for the talk.
Most of the brethren were at a loss, hearing Pat. Bartholomew’s
ecumenistic arguments, though none present objected. Some of those
present reportedly began to weep when Pat. Bartholomew said that
reunion with the Catholic church is inevitable.
Recall that Xenophontos and Pantocrator Monasteries have been the
most receptive to the Ukrainian schismatics. Abbot Alexios of
Xenophontos concelebrated in the enthronement
of Epiphany Dumenko as primate of the OCU, and Pantocrator was the first monastery where schismatics served Liturgy
on Mt. Athos.
At a recent meeting
in Constantinople with representatives of Tbilisi University, Pat.
Bartholomew said that dialogue with other Christians,
especially Catholics, is one of the priorities of the Patriarchate
Caveat... The Union of Orthodox Journalists is editorially closely aligned with the Moscow Patriarchate. I'm not dismissing such a shocking report as untrue. But I would bear the source in mind.