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Thursday, 27 October 2016


Russia-Georgia: the Patriarch’s prayers

2009-08-14 10:03

3653.jpegThe meeting of the heads of the Russian and Georgian Orthodox Churches is to take place at the end of this year. The church officers of both countries are making efforts to smooth down the conflict around South Ossetia and Abkhazia. However, the August war anniversary was marked by Patriarch Cyril and Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia the Second in an absolutely different manner. One of them referred to the war as to a tragedy of three Orthodox nations, while another has threatened the Ossetians and the Abkhazians with the divine scourge, which means they might disappear from the face of the earth.


While the Russian government is exercising its strong will in relationship with the former Soviet Union neighbors and coreligionists, the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) is making maximum peacemaking efforts, both in respect of Kiev, whom the Russian president has sent a warning message, while the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia expressed his gratitude for reception, and in respect of Tbilisi, with which the Kremlin has broken off any diplomatic relations after the Georgian aggression against South Ossetia and with which the primate is forging relationship.

Quite recently, Bishop of Zugdidi and Tsaish Gerasim (Sharashenidze) took part in the celebration in honor of Seraphim of Sarov that was held on August 1 in the Holy Trinity Seraphim-Diveevo monastery in Russia. Before that, the third International Russian-Georgian poets festival named In Search of Golden Fleece and organized by the two churches took place at the Black Sea coast. The death of Alexis II Patriarch of Moscow last year was an occasion for the visit of Catholicos Patriarch Ilia the Second to Moscow.

Cyril, who has replaced Alexis this year, is expected to meet Ilia the Second. It is most likely to happen in the territory that Georgia considers to be its own. Ilia II is the initiator of the pending meeting, thinking that it would become acceptable for the Russian party as well, as the Patriarch's secretary archpriest Mikhail Botkoveli told the Rezonansi newspaper. "The tradition of Patriarch blessing the countries that have got functioning Orthodox Churches is very old. The new heads of Orthodox Churches pay visits to such countries. The Georgian Patriarch also expressed desire to hold such a meeting. However, so far, there is no opportunity to specify the time, venue and circumstances of this meeting", - Holy Father Mikhail said.

According to the rumors, the meeting may take place in the Russian cities of Sochi and Vladikavdaz. However, if the main purpose is to visit an Orthodox country, then Sukhum would be preferable. Ilia the Second has long been wishing to go to Abkhazia but the authorities of the republic think that he has got no right for such visit, as long as he allows over-politicized statements and does not recognize political independence of this country. In spring, a rumor spread that the Georgian Patriarch is hoping for the assistance of the Russian Orthodox Church in respect of bringing the Abkhazians back under protection of the Georgian Patriarchs.

It looks like Georgia makes no difference between the spiritual and temporal affairs and regards the future meeting, first of all, as a political step and a kind of diplomatic instrument. "From the political viewpoint, this meeting is utterly important, - political expert Ramaz Klimiashvili says. It is a well-known fact that Moscow Patriarchy has recognized belonging of the Abkhazian Church to the Georgian Patriarchy, that is why our Patriarch has got full authority to arrive to Abkhazia. In Abkhazia, the Russian Patriarch will be a guest, while the Georgian Patriarch is going to be the receiving party, which is going to load the meeting politically".

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