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Making a mountain of a molehill in Novy Afon2011-04-14 21:54
Today, Abkhaz priesthood has been arguing about the fate of a monastery in Novy Afon. At the end of March, the head of the self-proclaimed autocephaly brought there an abbot from Russia - hegumen Efrem Vinogradov. However, the previous head of the shrine is hostile to the newcomer. Now they are beginning to talk about "Russia's expansion" into Abkhazia's spiritual life. These talks were gladly taken up by Georgian political experts.
Confrontation in the Abkhaz Orthodox Church delights Georgian experts and journalists. They are picking the head of the self-proclaimed autocephaly Vissarion Apliaa to pieces, accusing him of every sin, including of cooperation with Russian special services. According to the Georgian version, Russian Orthodox Church deceived Georgian Catholicos-Patriarch Iliya the Second by imposing abbot Efrem Vinogradov on the Novy Afon Abkhaz monastery without confessing its "expansion policy".
What's true here and what's not? The truth is that hegumen Efrem's arrival was not at all welcomed by provisor of the Novy Afon monastery hieromonk Andrey Ampar. He has been suffering in his office lately and asked to be released from his duty. At that time, Vissarion Apliaa was acting Father Superior. But it was pure formality because in fact, the monastery functioned simply as a parish and a tourist object.
Generally speaking, as was explained by the Council of the Abkhaz Orthodox Church in a special appeal to the congregation, the point of arranging the monastery staff became urgent.
"After a long and complicated search of a candidate (hieromonks Vasilisk (Leyba) and Ignatiy (Kiut) flatly refused to head the monastery), according to the unanimous opinion of members of the Church Council (including hieromonk Andrey), hegumen Efrem (Vinogradov-Lakerbaya) who is richly experienced in managing a monastery was recommended to the post", - the appeal goes.
Father Vissarion and Father Efrem were blessed by Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Cyril. It is no secret that for twenty years, Abkhazia has been spiritually guided by priests consecrated in Russia. Admitting "territorial integrity" of the Georgian Church, Russian Orthodox Church cannot allow preachers of the non-Orthodox confessions to come to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, from where Georgian priests were ousted. Only the opponents of Orthodoxy in general may consider it as the Russian Church's "expansion".