01/14/2019, 08.57
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Georgia and Poland against Epifanyj of Kiev

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The divisions between Orthodox Churches are deepening in fear of losing faithful. Georgian metropolitan Nikolaj says it is important to read the Tomos of autocephaly in the original language. Savva, metropolitan of Warsaw refers to Epifanyj as "a simple layman" of a schismatic Church. In Ukraine, dozens of Orthodox parishes pass to the patriarchate of Kiev.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The Georgian Orthodox Church, one of the 15 autocephalous churches of Byzantine tradition, for now awaits the reactions of other "sister Churches" to the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s authorization of a "new Church" in Ukraine. In any case, according to the Metropolitan of Akhalkalaki Nikolaj (Pachuashvili), the Georgians cannot recognize the Ukrainian "self-proclaimed” bishops who are condemned by Moscow, let alone celebrate with them.

Nikolaj (photo 2) is the administrator of the Georgian parishes in North America, and gave an interview on January 10 to the Georgian agency Interpressnews. In his opinion, "it is fundamental to understand who is placed at the head of this new Church, and verify its canonicity; some characters had been hit by anathema, and their condemnation had been recognized by all the Churches, including that of Constantinople ".

He added that so far the Georgian Synod has not yet thoroughly analyzed the Ukrainian Tomos presented by Constantinople, which should be "read in the original, not in the translated versions released by the press". Metropolitan Nikolaj also expressed concern that other churches could seek autonomy like the Ukrainians, such as the one present on the territory of Abkhazia, which already manages itself independently of the patriarchate of Tbilisi even though it is not recognized by anyone.

The Georgian Church has always remained faithful to the Byzantine tradition of Constantinople, unlike the "Gregorian" Armenian neighbors, who chose the monophysite heresy at the Council of Chalcedon of 451. Although it is a Church of very ancient traditions, developed in an independent and original way compared to the Greeks, the Georgians have maintained unity with the other Orthodox also because of the historical Russian occupation of the Caucasus.

Another high-ranking Orthodox prelate, the metropolitan of Warsaw and all of Poland Savva (Hrycuniak, photo 1), has in turn issued an interview with the Polish magazine Polityka explaining that he does not recognize the new Ukrainian primate Epifanyj (Dumenko). He claimed to consider the latter "a simple layman: he was not ordained in a canonical Church". The situation could change only if "the schismatics returned to the bosom of the Orthodox Church, from which they separated".

According to Savva, the consequences of the "schism" will also be felt in Poland, "where more than one million Ukrainians live, and Filaret with Epifanyj could try to open their own parishes ... I have already heard of a visit to Poland" . In his opinion, the Ukrainian government should first be concerned with ending the war in their own country.

Meanwhile, a week after the proclamation of the autochthonous Tomos, in Ukraine already about fifty parishes obedient to Moscow have chosen to move to the new autocephalous Church, including some of the most important, such as the Cathedral of Peter and Paul in Zolkiew, in the Lvov region, the cathedral of the Transfiguration of Vinnitsa, where the same metropolitan Simeon (Shostatsky) took part in the "Unification Council" of the new Church, and Savior Cathedral in Kiev.

In 2002 there were 2781 Orthodox parishes in Ukraine linked to the Moscow jurisdiction, a new balance will have to be drawn at the end of 2019. The different proportions with which these churches are distributed throughout the territory; in the western region of Lvov, of about 60 churches over half have already passed to Epifanyj. The new metropolitan of Kiev has declared "to believe in the gathering of all the Orthodox churches of the country" under his jurisdiction.

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