On July 30, 2018, the Constitutional Court of Georgia abolished the punishment for using marijuana, but not yet for its trade and storage. The reaction of the Georgian Orthodox Church followed immediately. On August 5, His Holiness and Beatitude Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of All Georgia gave a homily in connection with this decision. The patriarch touched on the subject again on September 16. Here we present a translation of both of these words from the primate of the Georgian Church.
“The legalization of drugs is animosity against our people”
Homily, August 5, 2018
We live in difficult times, when it’s hard for man to understand where good and evil are—where black and white are. But if a man is a believer, if he has the fear of God, then he can distinguish good from evil.
Recent times have brought great agitation to Georgia due to the fact that drug use has become legal. This is a huge mistake. We have to remember that drug use does not just stay at the same level. The more time passes, the more human nature asks for heavier drugs and can no longer contain itself.
We have to remember that the legalization of drugs is animosity against our people. I am sure that the people who passed this bill on the legalization of drugs do not themselves agree with this bill. But the pressure on them from above was so strong that they were forced to adopt this resolution.
We must not forget that if we allow the legalization of drugs then we must legalize the sale of drugs. We must legalize the cultivation of drugs. But the main thing is that this all leads to young people from neighboring countries who have left the stream of normal life starting to come here, and a whole center for such youth will emerge here.
Therefore, I appeal to all of you. Firstly, to our government, to our intelligentsia, to our youth: Protect our homeland! Protect our children! We must remember that any drug use is already the beginning of a fall. Again, I appeal to you with the plea: Don’t let our children perish. Do not allow this lawlessness.
May God give you strength. May the Lord grant you wisdom. Therefore, I asked Vladyka to read the Divine wisdom from Ecclesiastes today, and I bless you all to read one chapter from the Wisdom of Solomon and one chapter from Ecclesiastes daily.
May God bless you.
God is with us!
“What do we need an economy for if we lose our children?”
Homily, September 16, 2018
God is with us!
Human life is full of trials. We meet trials with faith and patience, and with the hope that this testing will end more easily. Surely, trials are necessary for people. Surely, by them, man is tempered and confirmed, according to Divine providence. But we have to remember that trials end with joy. A trial may be hard to bear, but it ends with joy.
There’s been a great confusion among the people lately because taking drugs—marijuana, cannabis, and other drugs—will be legalized. We must not fear. We must not think that God has abandoned us! We must not think that only our hearts ache for our homeland, for our people, for our youth, and others’ do not ache. I want to say that that the hearts of our authorities ache no less than ours for our homeland. The authorities bear responsibility, and therefore, this responsibility is placed on them.
I want to tell you: These drugs are very dangerous. When I was the metropolitan of Abkhazia, before I became patriarch, there was one Abkhazian woman there—she was the head surgeon. She had two children, and this woman would come to me crying, “My older sons is good, but the younger is addicted to drugs.” I even remember his name: Nuri. How can parents feel when their child takes things out of the house and sells them to get some drugs?! And this greatly respected woman abased herself, going around to friends asking for money and drugs to give her son.
She would tell me, “My older son is angry at me: ‘Why do you give him drugs?’ But I know what addiction means: If you don’t give him drugs, he can cause some real problems. This woman came to me again later and said, “There’s a rehab center in Tskhinvali. I should take him there.” There he endured heavy sufferings. He was sick and they tied him to the bed and gradually reduced his drug dosage…
I brought up this example to show how difficult it is to endure life with someone, a member of your family, who takes drugs. But drug addicts and drug addictions are treatable, and we must not lose hope, nor should the one who is sick. He mustn’t lose hope in recovery, in that he will recuperate. In my opinion, we should do everything to be near to them, to show love to these unfortunate young people, and we should ask God to heal them.
In my opinion, the government should take responsibility and control the situation. This field should not move into the private sector. If it moves over into the private sector, we won’t be able to control it. They now have the task of working out this bill. This bill should say that the government will take responsibility for this process. We have to remember that this is dangerous.
It’s dangerous because drug addicts from other countries will come here and take advantage of our freedom, and thus drug addiction will spread all the further in Georgia. Therefore, I would like to ask our government to look at this with great responsibility. They mustn’t look only at the economy and think only about how to bring economic benefit. What do we need an economy for if we lose our children?
I have hope that we will unite. We will do everything that the Church, people, and government would unite, and everything will be done to have less and less people afflicted with drug addiction.
May the Lord grant you grace! May the Lord grant grace to Georgia and to everyone who is possessed with this affliction. We must triumph! We will triumph over ourselves!
I would like to say again that we must not think that we love our homeland and our people more than does our government.
Let us have hope in victory over this sickness. May the Lord bless our people! God is with us!