Georgian Synod won’t decide on Ukraine until spring despite visit from Constantinople delegation

Tbilisi, January 31, 2019

The Holy Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church is still in no hurry to make a decision about whether or not to recognize the Ukrainian nationalist church created by Constantinople on December 15.

Yesterday’s meeting of a delegation from the Patriarchate of Constantinople with His Holiness Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia ended without any result—the Synod will wait until its regularly-scheduled spring session to come to a decision, reports the Georgian site radiotavisupleba.

The Patriarchate released a statement just before the meeting yesterday emphasizing the need to preserve Orthodox unity and not make rash decisions.

Representatives from Constantinople, headed by Metropolitan Emmanuel of Gaul traveled to Tbilisi yesterday to discuss the granting of a tomos of autocephaly to the new Ukrainian structure, which took place on January 6 in Constantinople. The meeting lasted about two hours and was attended by several members of the Georgian Holy Synod, including the Patriarchal Locum Tenens His Eminence Metropolitan Shio of Senaki and Chkhorotsqu, reports

As representatives of the Georgian Church noted afterwards, the meeting did not have any particular influence on their position, and the Church will continue to take its time in examining the matter. According to Met. Shio, the Synod will discuss the matter further at its next session in the spring, and no decisions will be made before then.

Asked how the Russian Church’s stance influences the Georgian Church in the given situation, Met. Shio replied: “Unfortunately, there exists in Georgia the opinion that our current position is associated with Russian influence. In fact, you yourselves heard today the position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, that they agree with our position,” that is, that they understand the Georgian Church’s desire not to rush.

Met. Emmanuel stated that the Constantinople delegation had arrived only to share the details of the granting of the tomos and not to “pressure or impose our opinion.”

Archpriest Andria Jagmaidze, the head of the Patriarchal press service earlier spoke about the pressure on the Georgian bishops to recognize the Ukrainian schismatics from both governmental and non-governmental forces.

“We know that the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia has enough wisdom to make a wise decision,” the Constantinople hierarch said.

Met. Emmanuel also noted several times that “today the main thing is to preserve the unity between the Orthodox Churches”—an ironic sentiment coming from a bishop of Constantinople, as it is the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s actions in Ukraine that have placed Orthodox unity in danger according to the view of several other Local Orthodox Churches.

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