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