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More time to serve for Ilia II2010-02-11 15:49
Catholicos Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II is coming back from Germany after therapy. The head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, now 77, neutralizes anti-Russian rhetoric of the country's secular authorities. His activity is absolutely necessary to patch up relations between two nations with common faith.
Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II is coming back home from Munich on Friday, February 12 after effective preventive treatment. On Forgiven Sunday the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church plans to minister a prayer in Saint Trinity Cathedral.
The Patriarch's health is a reason for concern among clergy and politicians. Last winter on a two-week therapy in Munich hospital Ilia II underwent a heart operation. According to the doctors the disease was caused by over-strain.
Because of sickness Ilia II failed to attend enthronization of new Moscow and All Russia Patriarch Kirill arousing rumors in the media.
In December 2008 despite interrupted diplomatic relations between Georgia and Russia Ilia II came to Moscow to attend the funeral of former head of Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) Alexey II. Then President Dmitry Medvedev met with the Catholicos assuring him of his benevolence and a desire to settle the conflict between two countries.
Remarkably, in Georgia respect for the church is much higher than in Russia. The Patriarch's words for believers mean more than the president's speeches. Sermons of the national mentor are quoted by the media. He has been at the head of the patriarchate for over 30 years. In 2008 he was awarded Person of the Year status in Georgia, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called him "spiritual leader of the Georgian nation" in his congratulatory telegram.
That is why everyone is closely watching development of relations between two brotherly churches. Ilia II's absence at Kirill's enthronization was not a problem for setting up contacts. Throughout last year there were several visits of Georgian priests to Russia and the meeting of patriarchs in Baku.
The Russian Orthodox Church consistently sticks to territorial integrity of Georgian eparchy and non-recognition of Abkhaz church that proclaimed itself an autocephaly and Ossetian church that surrendered to the old-style Synod of Resistance with the Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece.