Valaam abbot gives up Internet, suggests restricting use of smartphones in monasteries

Natalya Mihailova | 23 July 2015
Moscow, July 23, Interfax - Bishop Pankraty, abbot of the Valaam Transfiguration Monastery, has expressed concerns about the popularity of new information technologies with monks.

“All these smartphones, large screens are a huge temptation, especially to young monks. I have often heard them say at confessionals that they have again fallen into the sin of using the Internet […] One novice even left Valaam because he had been drawn by the Internet and the common world had drawn him back. I even believe it’s one of the biggest challenges to monks now,” the bishop said in an interview published in the Wednesday edition of the paper Argumenty i Fakty.

The bishop said monks leave the secular world and smartphones bring them back to it, adding that the problem now exists everywhere, even on Athos.

“They write blogs there, talk on forums, send ‘Many years’, addresses and anathemas. But all these things absolutely contradict monkhood. Although I use the Internet myself. It’s really convenient: you can learn the weather and the weather forecast for tomorrow, whether you should use a boat to sail on the Ladoga or not, and the news on events taking place in the patriarchy and the world. It’s convenient to manage, read and send letters,” the bishop said.

Nevertheless, he said he has made a decision to give up the Internet.

“Even the phones that monks have on Athos are not theirs, they are the monastery’s. They get them like they get socks in the warehouse, a cup and a spoon, the simplest and the cheapest furniture. Everything is very functional. If a monk gets a specific obedience, he gets a phone and the phone is taken away when it’s over. The same should be done in our monasteries,” he said.

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