24 May 2013, 19:24
Abkhaz president asks Moscow Patriarchate to ordain Abkhaz bishop (updated)
Sukhumi, May 24, Interfax - Abkhaz President Alexander Ankvab has asked the Moscow Patriarchate to take the Abkhaz Diocese and ordain an Abkhaz bishop.
"Even though we have deep respect for the Ecumenical Patriarch, Constantinople is still too far from us in many respects. Bearing in mind the fact that believers cannot be left without spiritual care and remembering the historical connections between Abkhaz and Russian Orthodox faith, I believe the Moscow Patriarchate should assume this high mission," Ankvab said at the second Russian-Abkhaz humanitarian forum.
"Bearing in mind the importance of the issue, it is perfectly obvious that there is a need for the Abkhaz bishop to be ordained," he said.
Ankvab believes the problem needs to be resolved as soon as possible "to keep apostolic continuity in this ancient Orthodox country, pacify the growing folk with God's will, and avoid the most undesirable consequences."
"The Abkhaz authorities are firmly convinced about that," Ankvab said.
The crisis in the Abkhaz Orthodoxy began during the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, when "the Georgian Orthodox Church clearly backed the military aggression," the president said.
"Since that time, believers in Abkhazia and their spiritual teachers, Abkhaz and Russian clergymen, have led an independent church life. Outside assistance was provided to them by the Russian Orthodox Church," the Abkhaz president said.
Patriarch Ilia II of All Georgia earlier said he plans to visit Abkhazia in the company of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Vissarion Aplia, the head of the Sukhum-Abkhaz Diocese, said Patriarch of All Georgia cannot visit Abkhazia in the company of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. "We did not invite him to Abkhazia," he said.