Some Georgian activists gathered at the Georgian Patriarchate on January 13, calling on the high-rank clerics to congratulate Ukrainian Church on gaining autocephaly.
Activists Call on Patriarchate to Congratulate Ukraine on Autocephaly
By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, January 15
The protesters believe that the Georgian church should not stay silent and should officially congratulate friendly Ukraine on the important occasion.
Ukrainian Church obtained independence from Moscow on January 5, 2019, when World Patriarch Bartholomew signed the Tomos.
The Tomos declares that the Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine, representing the Holy Synod of Ukrainian bishops, should turn to the Patriarchate of Constantinople for all decisions in the future.
Before the signing ceremony, Bartholomew called on other world autocephalous churches to support the Ukrainian Church.
The Ukrainian church had been under Moscow’s jurisdiction since 1686, when, under pressure from Russia, it abandoned allegiance to Constantinople, the historical seat of the Eastern Orthodox Church now known as Istanbul.
Both, Patriarch Bartholomew and the newly autonomous Ukrainian church, described the occasion as a long-needed alignment of Ukraine’s independent state and church.
Georgian authorities and the Patriarchate remain silent regarding the issue.
Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze and the Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze stated the Patriarchate of Georgia has to decide on the issue, which was discussed at the last meeting of the Holy Synod on December 27 but without any outcomes.
However, despite the silence from the Patriarchate, the Shemokmedi Archbishop Ioseb took to Facebook to congratulate the Ukrainian Church.
“I congratulate the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on receiving Tomos and I believe that Ukraine deserves an autocephalous church. Ukraine has struggled for independence and autocephaly for centuries. Their aspiration will strengthen the Christian Orthodox unity,” the post reads.
Before Archbishop Ioseb, Archbishop Ilia Chighladze posted on Facebook that the ones who do not congratulate Ukraine, are “either into Russian imperialism or are frightened conformists.”
"The autocephaly of Ukraine is the beginning of the defeat of the Russian ecclesiastical and ideological imperialism. This is an elementary issue,” Archbishop Ilia stated.
Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili also made a comment regarding the issue. She stated she could congratulate friendly Ukraine on this occasion if she were not a president.
“I have a big responsibility…If Georgian Patriarchate is careful about this issue for some possible consequences, I cannot congratulate Ukrainians…I do not want to name the reasons now,” Zourabichvili told the media.
The United States congratulated Ukraine on January 10, saying it “maintains its strong support for religious freedom, including the freedom for members of religious groups to govern their religion according to their beliefs, without external interference.”