Tbilisi, October 8, 2018
The Patriarchate of Georgia has released a statement refuting the information spreading through the Ukrainian media about its supposed support for the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.
“Such information began to spread after the meeting of Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia with the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Andrei Paruby last week in Tbilisi. The information that the Georgian Church has recognized the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church does not correspond to reality,” today’s statement emphasizes.
It notes that Paruby spoke to Pat. Ilia of the desire of some Ukrainians to receive autocephaly for their Orthodox Church, to which the Georgian primate responded by speaking of the difficulty of attaining this dream at present and advised being extremely careful “so as to prevent a civil confrontation.”
“As for the position of the Georgian Church on the issue of the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church, it remains unchanged: Until the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Moscow fix their final official positions on the basis of canonical Church norms, the Georgian Patriarchate refrains from commentary,” the Georgian Church’s statement reads.
As Interfax-Religion reports, the Patriarch expressed the same sentiment to Paruby during their meeting, which the Speaker then reported as the Patriarch’s support. According to the statement on the Georgian Church’s site from after the meeting with Paruby, His Holiness spoke of the “need to refrain from premature assessments” on the issue.
However, Paruby told journalists, supposedly quoting Pat. Ilia: “We expect that this difficult problem in Ukraine will be solved positively. The Georgian Orthodox Church has also passed a very difficult way to obtain autocephaly.”
Speaking with journalists after the Speaker’s statements, the head of the Department of External Church Relations of the Georgian Patriarchate, Metropolitan Gerasim (Sharashenidze) of Zugdidi and Tsaishsky, refrained from commenting on the issue of autocephaly but only spoke of the Georgian Church’s prayers for peace and unity in Ukraine.
Paruby’s meeting and false information comes just days after the Georgian Holy Synod made a statement to the same effect as today’s statement: that it does not want make any hasty evaluations until the two sides have formulated their official and non-appealable positions on the basis of the norms of canon law.
Note that the Synod did call for any decision to be worked out between Moscow and Constantinople, not unilaterally.
Much false information has been spreading through Ukrainian media lately, and occasionally appearing in English-language media.
In late September, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs misrepresented Abp. Chrysostomos’ words to make him out to be a supporter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s granting of autocephaly to Ukrainian schismatics.
Earlier in September, His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem met with a delegation from the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, speaking of the tentacles of globalization and the interference of politicians that were disrupting Ukrainian Church life. His words were somehow twisted into being a support for autocephaly, although His Beatitude has clearly spoken on the matter a number of times in the past.
On September 21, His Beatitude Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa of Poland released a joint statement calling for those involved in the autocephaly question in Ukraine to do whatever possible to stave off the growing conflict and to restore peace.
Archbishop Job (Getcha), a hierarch of the Patriarchate of Constantinople twisted these words into an expression of support for Ukrainian autocephaly: “I understand that the [joint] statement explicitly refers to autocephaly and the establishment of canonical order in Church life in Ukraine. That is, the separation in Ukraine requires an introduction of the ecclesiastical order. Only the provision of autocephaly can solve this problem.”
However, Pat. Theodoros then arrived in Ukraine where he prayed for Ukrainian unity with the faithful of the canonical Church and called on them to never abandon the canonical Church and its head shepherd His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.
As the Union of Orthodox Journalists reports, even the Roman Catholic Apostolic Nuncio in Ukraine has had to deny Ukrainian governmental lies that “the Vatican respects the decision of the Ukrainian people to create a single Local Church.”
And meeting in Constantinople from September 1 to 3, the bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate heard a report from His Grace Bishop Makarios of Christoupolis on “The Ecclesiastical Issue in Ukraine,” in which he falsely claimed that then-Metropolitan Philaret of Kiev was not chosen as the Patriarch of Moscow in 1990 because he is Ukrainian. His Holiness Patriarch Alexei (Ridiger) II was an Estonian of German and Swedish origin, and the “runner-up,” His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir (Sabodan) was also a Ukrainian.
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