Tbilisi, April 12, 2021
Thousands gathered on the street outside the administration of the Georgian Patriarchate in Tbilisi on Friday, April 9, to show their loving support for His Holiness Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II and the Georgian Orthodox Church.
The rally was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the 1989 Tbilisi Massacre, in which 21 were killed and hundreds were injured when the Soviet army crushed an anti-Soviet demonstration.
During the event, the Georgian singer Gia Gachechiladze told the crowd that “today a targeted attack is being carried out on the Church and the Patriarch,” reports the Telegram channel Labarium. Sim Pobedishi.
“They pour dirt and lies upon him, they bring dozens of people to arrange provocations by the building of the Patriarchate! Let’s show them that there are more of us, that Georgia is us, not a bunch of political dissenters, the singer urged.
After the singer’s speech, the crowd moved towards the Patriarch’s residence, chanting, “Thank you,” and, “We love you, Your Holiness!”
Surveys repeatedly show His Holiness to be the most favored and trusted public figure in Georgia. According to the most recent, survey, 89% of the nation has a favorable view of the Patriarch, while only 4% has an unfavorable view.
There has been unrest in the Chkondidi Diocese of the Georgian Orthodox Church since Metropolitan Peter (Tsaava) was banned from serving by the Holy Synod on October 31, 2019, and sent to a monastery to live in repentance for his repeated unfounded moral accusations against Pat. Ilia.
Tsaava has refused to obey the Synod’s order, but continues to actively gather and incite supporters, who refuse to accept the hierarchs sent to replace him in the Chkondidi Diocese. In addition to his accusations against the Patriarch, Tsaava is also among the small minority of pro-Constantinople Georgian bishops who vocally support the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
There have been physical altercations in the diocese recently, leading to the suspension and excommunication of a number of clerics, and on April 1, Tsaava held a rally outside the Georgian Patriarchate, demanding a meeting with the Patriarch to insist upon reforms in the Georgian Church, which, they believe, “needs to be cleansed from Soviet influence.”