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Georgian, Russian Churches discuss setting up joint commission

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, November 3
The Russian and Georgian churches might establish a joint working commission that would regulate the situation in terms of religious issues in breakaway Abkhazia, Russian-occupied part of Georgia.

The issue was raised at the meeting of Georgia’s Patriarch Ilia II and the head of the Russian Church Foreign Affairs Department, Ilarion (Alfeev).

The Russian guest paid a one-day visit to Tbilisi in order to hand over the invitation by Russian Patriarch Kirill to Ilia II asking him to attend the 100th anniversary event in Moscow on the restoration of independence of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The parties discussed the developments in Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia region. Georgia’s Patriarch expressed hope that the situation in occupied Abkhazia will be resolved in the near future.

The head of Foreign Affairs Department at the Russian Church remarked that it is necessary to establish a working team to discuss the situation in Abkhazia.

A number of theologians criticize the creation of a joint commission of Russian and Georgian Orthodox churches. They call on the Georgian patriarchate to cut off the Eucharist ties with Russia.

They also demand the involvement of the Constantinople Patriarchate and other churches in the process.

The secretary of the Georgian Patriarch, archpriest Michael Botkoveli, said in response that the religious issues of Abkhazia cannot be solved without the Russian church.

Botkoveli explained that the idea of setting up a joint commission has not been raised only now but long time ago. He said the creation of such a group is in the interests of Georgia as well.

“I understand the position of the theologians but we should admit that the Russian Orthodox Church has a special role in resolving the conflict with Abkhazia. We have similar negotiations with the patriarchate of Constantinople as well,” the archpriest said.

Georgian Patriarch Ilia II paid his last official visit in Moscow in November 2016 to participate in the events marking the 70th birthday of Russian Patriarch Kirill.