26 February 2021, 17:44
Acting leader of Abkhazian Diocese is member of Georgian Church - Georgian Patriarchate
Tbilisi, February 26, Interfax - The acting leader of the Diocese of Abkhazia claiming that local religious services were put on hold pending the decision of the status of the Abkhazian Orthodox Church came as a surprise and is confusing, the Georgian Patriarchate said.
"The latest statement by Father Vissarion Aplia is completely unexpected and incomprehensible," the Georgian Orthodox Church's Metropolitan Andrew of Gori and Aten said, commenting on the priest's remarks that the church situation in Abkhazia should be decided by the Moscow Patriarchate. The comment was released by the Georgian Patriarchate's public relations service.
Father Vissarion is a member of the Georgian Orthodox Church, the Georgian bishop said.
"Unfortunately, politics is having its influence," he said, noting that his Church hoped that, "the Russian Church, which unequivocally and expressly recognized the canonical territories of the Georgian Church" would not allow recognition of a self-proclaimed Abkhaz Orthodox Church, nor its becoming part of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Georgian Patriarchate also released its own comment, saying that Father Vissarion's remarks "grossly distort" the question of church history in Abkhazia.
The suspension of religious services in Abkhazia was announced by Father Vissarion on Abkhaz state television on February 21.
He noted that churches remained open. "We were and are hoping that the Moscow Patriarchate will resolve our church situation, the status of our Abkhazian Orthodox Church. We cannot be part of the Georgian Church, never were and will not be," he said.
The church secession has been discussed since the end of the 1992-1993 Georgian-Abkhazian war. Abkhazia repeatedly asked the Moscow Patriarchate to settle the issue.
All local Orthodox churches still regard the republic as part of the Georgian Orthodox Church despite the Georgian clergy having left the republic after hostilities ended in 1993 and Georgian bishops not having de-facto pastoral power there.
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