The Patriarchate of Georgia has issued a statement regarding the non-canonical actions of clergy in Abkhazia, Georgia.
In the statement, it is mentioned that, in a televised interview on February 19, protopresbyter, who is still under the jurisdiction of the Georgian Orthodox Church, “distorted the historical-church evidence and stressed that the resolution of its religious issues of Abkhazia does not concern the Patriarchate of Constantinople, of Alexandria or of Jerusalem, but it is a privilege of the Moscow Patriarchate.”
The Patriarchate of Georgia speaks of a “false statement” on the part of Fr. Bessarion, and emphasized that “the local Orthodox Churches within their canonically recognized limits resolve the issues on their own.”
There is also reference to historical evidence which proves that Abkhazia has historically been a member of the Georgian Orthodox Church since the 7th century, and that there have always been Georgian hierarchs in the Metropolis of Abkhazia and was under the jurisdiction of the Georgian Orthodox Church as an integral part.
“This was confirmed by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in October 1943, recognizing the Autocephaly of the Georgian Orthodox Church along with its historical borders,” concluded the announcement of the Patriarchate of Georgia.
The Association of Religion Experts of Georgia also referred to this issue, stressing that the actions of Fr. Bessarion, who refuses to officiate the religious services until the “Abkhazian Orthodox Church” issue is resolved, are encouraged by the Russian Orthodox Church.
Moreover, according to the Association of Religious Experts of Georgia, “the non-canonical activity of the Russian Orthodox Church against the Georgian Orthodox Church continues.”
In particular, it is emphasized that the priest Sergei Kokoev continues to officiate the religious services in the Church of the Holy Trinity, which is a “violation of church canons and an affront to the Georgian Orthodox Church.”
Moreover, the Association of Religious Experts of Georgia asked the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia and the Holy Synod “to break-off the Eucharistic communion with the Russian Orthodox Church and to take effective measures to restore the damaged dignity and honor of Georgian Orthodox Church. We also call on the prelates of other Orthodox Churches to work together to stop the predatory activities of the Russian Orthodox Church in the occupied regions of Georgia.”