In a very interesting interview regarding the situation in the Georgian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Zeno of Great Britain of the Patriarchate of Georgia stared that he did not recognize Metropolitan Shio as a “locum tenens” and deplored the actions related to his appointment.
Speaking Saturday night on Formula News TV, Archbishop Zeno revealed that in 2017 he had written and sent a letter to all the synodal hierarchs, referring to the appointment of Metropolitan Shio as “locum tenens,” thus sounding the alarm bell for the possibility of establishing a dyarchy system within the Georgian Orthodox Church.
As reported by the Ecclesiastical News of Georgia, there were many hierarchs who agreed with Archbishop Zenon, but could not support publicly their position “because there were cases of blackmail and threats.”
In his letter, Zenon stated: “We witness the election of the successor, but this contradicts not only the Charter of the Georgian Orthodox Church but also the Holy Canons of the Orthodox Church.”
It is pointed out that the election of Metropolitan Shio as “locum tenens” was a unilateral decision of the Primate of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia, without the consent of the Holy Synod.
As reported by the Ecclesiastical News of Georgia, it is of great concern that this arbitrary decision of Patriarch Ilia took place a month after the official visit of the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church, headed by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, for which the official reason was stated to be “the transfer of sacred relics and icons.”
In his interview with Formula News, Archbishop Zeno noted that, according to the canonical principles of the Church, Metropolitan Shio would be able to act as a “locum tenens” only when the throne became vacant. “Until then, any action of Metropolitan Shio under the capacity of ‘locum tenens’ will be illegal.”
Asked if one could replace Patriarch Ilia while he was alive, he stressed that this “is a utopia and not a serious statement. This is not just a matter of the Georgian Orthodox Church. The Georgian Orthodox Church is part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Chuch and in this Ecumenical Orthodox Church the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has the first and canonical place.”
When asked whom he would vote for when the elections took place, he said that he did not see the point in saying now, but “if I live then, I promise you that from the beginning I will publicly state whom I will vote for.”
Concluding, regarding the current role of Metropolitan Shio, the Archbishop stated that he was a bishop, while after the vacancy of the patriarchal throne he would act as a “locum tenens,” but stressed that this did not mean that he would be elected as the new Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia.