Tbilisi, February 17, 2021
Relations are tense between the Churches of Georgia and Constantinople since Patriarch Bartholomew uncanonically ordained a deacon of the Georgian Church to the priesthood last year without the necessary knowledge and blessing of the Georgian Church.
The issue was raised at the session of the Georgian Holy Synod last week and it was resolved that a Synodal commission will study the matter more thoroughly.
On July 13, the pro-Constantinople outlet Orthodox Times reported that the day before, Pat. Bartholomew “ordained Hierodeacon Father Irakli Jinjolava, a clergyman of Georgian descent, as a Presbyter, giving him the name Elijah, in honor of Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia.” He was then appointed as the rector of the Georgian parish in Constantinople.
However, as it turns out, Hierodeacon Irakli was not merely a cleric “of Georgian descent,” but a cleric of the Georgian Church. At the session of the Georgian Holy Synod last Thursday, the hierarchs examined the “procedure for the transfer of Hierodeacon Irakli (Jinjolava) to the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 2020, which was carried out without the consent of the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia.”
Unsurprisingly, Hierodeacon Irakli is a strong supporter of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” and has criticized the Georgian Church for not recognizing them. He also criticized the Georgian Church for keeping churches open for the faithful during the pandemic.
A few days after the Holy Synod met and raised the issue of the non-canonical ordination, the Georgian outlet World Ecclesiastical News decided to report on a letter that Archbishop Zenon of Dmanisi and Agarak-Tashiri, Great Britain, and Ireland sent to the Patriarch of Georgia back in July. In the letter, he accuses the Georgian Church of declaring “secret war” on the Patriarchate of Constantinople by supposedly banning Georgian diplomats in Turkey from attending Liturgies celebrated by Pat. Bartholomew or meeting with him.
The story was then picked up by Orthodox Times. However, neither outlet makes any mention of why the Patriarchate may have taken such a step. Neither makes any mention of the non-canonical ordination of Hierodeacon Irakli to the priesthood.
According to World Ecclesiastical News, certain Georgian theologians have characteristically blamed the whole affair on nefarious Russian influence.
However, as Orthodox Times reports, Giorgi Janjgava, the Georgian ambassador to Turkey, refuted the Archbishop’s letter, stating on Facebook: “I don’t know who needed to spread this lie. I have had, have, and will have a relationship with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.”
Presumably, the Georgian Holy Synod will make a final decision in the case of Hierodeacon Irakli at a later session.