2008-09-05 13:51:00

The Sukhumi-Abkhazian diocese seeks to join the Russian Church

Sukhumi, September 5, Interfax - The Abkhazian Church wants to be self-governed Church under the Moscow Patriarchate, administrator of the Sukhumi-Abkhazian Diocese Fr. Vissarion Aplia told journalists.

Orthodox believers of Abkhazia asked the Moscow Patriarchate for it "more than once before, but the republic wasn't recognized and it was the main obstacle for settling the question," he noted.

"We were in a very hard situation after Georgian-Abkhazian war of 1992-93 and it was the Russian Orthodox Church that extended help to the Abkhazian Church, though we asked the whole Orthodox world for help," the diocesan head said.

"Today when Russia recognized Abkhazia's independence, we intend to ask for settling this question again," Fr. Vissarion further said.

The Russian Orthodox Church stated late in August that though Russia had politically recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia, it didn't mean changes of canonical territories of the Moscow and Georgian Patriarchates.

"The political decision has been taken and we must respect it because it is based on the unanimous opinion of MPs from both chambers of the Russian parliament," deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin told Interfax-Religion.

However, the priest further said, "Political decisions don't define church jurisdictions and spheres of pastoral responsibility. These questions should be settled canonically in course of dialogue between the two (Russian and Georgian -IF) Churches."