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17705No religious split-lines, ROC says to Abkhaz

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    Apr 2, 2013
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      No religious split-lines, ROC says to Abkhaz
      by DFWatch staff | Mar 31, 2013

      Tbilisi, DFWatch – Abkhaz de facto leader was evidently informed that
      Russian Orthodox Church, unlike the Kremlin which recognized Abkhazia as
      an independent country, wouldn’t tolerate drawing ecclesiastical borders
      along political split-lines, at least formally.

      During a meeting in Sochi, Russian resort city just few kilometers from
      breakaway Abkhazia, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of
      the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations,
      pointed out to Alexander Ankvab, Abkhaz separatist leader, that all
      clerical disputes would be settled only according to the ecclesiastical
      means – in other words, Georgian Church, holding a canonic authority
      over Abkhazia, should have some kind of a sway in Abkhaz spiritual life.

      During the meeting of March 28, attended by Metropolitan Hilarion of
      Russia, Mitropolitan Seraphime of Georgia and Alexander Ankvab, the
      latter ‘underscored that spiritual ties of the Abkhazian clergy and
      Orthodox people of Abkhazia with the Georgian Orthodox Church had been
      lost long ago and could not be re-established,’ according to the
      official website of Russian Orthodox Church.

      Governing body of the Georgian Church, the Patriarchate, hasn’t
      commented on the issue.

      Although Russian Federation recognized Abkhazia as an independent state,
      a move harshly criticized by the West, in the wake of the August War of
      2008 Russian church formally regard Abkhazia as a part of Georgian
      Church’s canonical authority. However, in Abkhazia, which was ethnically
      cleansed of Georgian population, except Gali district, local priests
      have refused to keep ties with Georgian Church. As Orthodox religious
      service requires formal blessing from the higher authorities, Abkhaz
      priests used to resort to Russian higher hierarchy for blessing, a move
      regarded counter-canonical by Georgia.

      The same situation exists in South Ossetia, another breakaway region of

      The meeting in Sochi was preceded on early March by the visit of
      Metropolitan Gerasime of Zugdidi, Georgia to Russia where he attended a
      service and held several meetings with Russian Hierarchy, including
      Metropolitan Hilarion.

      Earlier this year, the Catholicos-Partiarch Ilia II of Georgia visited
      Moscow and met Vladimir Putin.