Georgian Church considers Ukraine’s break with the Russian Patriarchate
The main governing body of the Georgian Orthodox Church, the Holy Synod, discussed the ‘complex situation of the Church of Ukraine’ on 21 June.
The minutes of the meeting say that the patriarchate of Georgia received three letters concerning the state of affairs in Ukraine: the first from the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the second from the patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia and the third from the Moscow Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The Ukrainian church is currently under the jurisdiction of the Russian church. Ukrainian Orthodoxy’s autocephaly, that is, independence, is not recognized by any Orthodox church.
The national and spiritual authorities of Ukraine recently appealed to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the leadership of all Orthodox faith based in Greece, with a request to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian church. The issue is being considered by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
In the minutes of the Synod meeting it is said that on 21 June all three letters were considered, but no assessments have been made.
“The Synod heard information about the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church. This issue is being investigated and a conclusion will be made in the future,” said Bishop Zosima to journalists after the Synod meeting.
The speaker of the Synod, Metropolitan of Chkondidi Bishop Petre Tsaava, spoke more extensively with journalists. According to him, the question of the Ukrainian Church’s autocephaly will be debated once the Ecumenical Patriarchate has expressed its position.
“I think the Georgian Orthodox Church has taken a reasonable position,” the Bishop said, while clarifying his personal opinion:
“I personally think that Ukraine is a country with 40 million inhabitants. It must have an independent church and should not include in its prayers the first hierarch of the state which is an aggressor against Ukraine. Also, it should not be subordinate as a church, but the procedural solution of this issue will take time.”
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Ukraine hopes that the Georgian Patriarchate will support its autocephaly. This was stated by the Speaker of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (Parliament), Andrei Parubiy.
The Russian side has also been active on the issue. In April, Metropolitan Illarion, head of the International Relations Department of the Russian Patriarchate, visited Georgia. As the Secretary of the Patriarchate of Georgia, Deacon Mikael Botkoveli, Metropolitan Illarion and Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II talked about the autocephaly of Ukraine.
- On 22 April, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced that the Patriarchate of Constantinople had begun compulsory procedures for the creation of a unified autocephalous church in Ukraine.
- The Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople stated that it will actively cooperate with the Orthodox churches in terms of informing and coordinating actions in the issue of autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church.
- The current state of affairs is complicated with the canonical Ukrainian church, subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate, as well as two unrecognized Orthodox churches of the Kiev Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church functioning in Ukraine.