2019-01-10 14:39:00

Georgian Church needs time to decide on recognizing Ukraine's autocephaly

Tbilisi, January 10, Interfax - The Georgian Orthodox Church will not rush its decision on whether to recognize the autocephaly of the new church of Ukraine, Metropolitan Nikoloz of Akhalkalaki and Kumurdo told reporters.

"The Churches that are ahead of us in the hierarchy have to state their positions first. The decision of the Constantinople Patriarchate to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian church needs to be studied. On the one hand, the Georgian Church can support the right of the Ukrainian state to have an autocephalous church, but on the other hand, one needs to take into account who should recognize this autocephaly and on what conditions. In particular, who the head of the Ukrainian church and other hierarchs should be," Metropolitan Nikoloz told the Georgian information agency Interpressnews.

It is especially important to determine the canonicity of those Ukrainian clergymen who are represented in the new church of Ukraine, as some of them were anathematized in a decision shared by all Orthodox Churches, including the Constantinople Patriarchate.

"Today we cannot recognize these clergymen and serve with them," the metropolitan said.

The Holy Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church has not yet studied the tomos received by the Ukrainian church in detail, he said.

"We need to study the tomos in the original, not one of the translated versions published a couple of days ago. There can be no rush here, given that the Constantinople Patriarchate has still not made a decision regarding a similar tomos for the Georgian Orthodox Church and has not settled the diptych issue. It took the Constantinople 1,500 years to recognize the autocephaly of the Georgian Orthodox Church. If the Ukrainian church has to wait a little, there will be nothing special in that. We restored our autocephaly in 1917, which was recognized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1943 and by the Constantinople Patriarchate in 1990. The issue of recognition is a lengthy and complex process, so it's tactless and inappropriate to talk about our position right now," Metropolitan Nikoloz said.

The Holy Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church discussed the Constantinople Patriarchate's letter on granting autocephaly to the new church of Ukraine, he said.

"The official letter contains a very dangerous phrase to the effect that the Constantinople Patriarchate has the exclusive right to interfere in the affairs of any local Church. This is unacceptable and could lead to many challenges in the future," the metropolitan said, without ruling out that the kind of situation surrounding the granting of autocephaly to Ukraine may occur with the self-proclaimed Abkhaz Church in the future.