11/18/2019, 11.38
GEORGIA - RUSSIA
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Tbilisi, scandals and divisions in the Church and between parties

by Vladimir Rozanskij

A parliamentary commission will verify the existence of a political plot against patriarch Ilia II. Scandalous accusations by a bishop against the patriarch, considered too pro-Russian and the Orthodox patriarch of Moscow Kirill’s "puppet".

Moscow (AsiaNews) - A commission of inquiry will shed light on the statements by Bodve bishop, Jakov (Jakobashvili) about a political plot to oust the 83-year-old patriarch Ilja II (Gudushauri-Shiolashvili), in office since 1977 (see photo). The commission was approved last November 11 by the Georgian parliament. In the same period, the deposed Metropolitan of Chkondinsky, Petr (Tsaava) made scandalous accusations against the patriarch himself.

The serious accusations are not only an expression of internal conflicts within the Georgian Orthodox Church, but involve political parties, starting with the majority "The Georgian Dream". According to Bishop Jakov, some party leaders are part of the plot. Moreover, the opposition "National Movement" party is championed the commission of inquiry.

At the end of October, Bishop Jakov publicly accused the current Prime Minister Georgij Zacharja, together with Interior Minister Vakhtan Gomelaury and former Prime Minister Georgij Kvirikashvili, of organizing a plan to replace the Katholikos (patriarch) Ilja II, considered a supporter of the Russians, with a more "patriotic" prelate. On 31 October, before the Synod of Georgian bishops, Jakov expressed regret for his resounding public intervention, but only for the tone and not for the contents, which he confirmed. It must be said that the declaration before politicians and journalists had been made in a state of evident drunkenness.

The president of the Chamber of Deputies, Ghya Volskij (member of the Georgian Dream), strongly criticized the initiative of the oppositions to approve the commission of inquiry (requiring 50 parliamentarians in favor), judging the accusations of Jakov "absurd": "All the initiatives of the National Movement have purely political purposes, for which they do not hesitate to expose the country's highest religious authorities to public pillory, even leading the patriarch to respond before parliament. Only scandals, scandals and attempts to destabilize the country ".

The former Metropolitan of Chkondinsky instead gave an interview to Mtavari TV, accusing the patriarch of sexual scandals, with the complicity of other collaborators of the Patriarchate. Petr Tsaava had been removed from the diocese and reduced to the lay state last October 31, in his opinion precisely because he had discovered the misdeeds of Ilia II and some high ranking prelates.

During the hour and a half interview, conducted by channel director Nika Gvaramja, Tsaava in turn linked the scandal to politics, stating that "Ilia II is a puppet in the hands of the Russian patriarch Kirill (Gundjaev)", and his support in the past it was decisive to condition Georgian politics in accordance with the aims of the Russians, who after the armed conflicts of 2011 continue to try to subject the Caucasian country. Tsaava has declared that he is ready to descend himself into politics, with Nino Burzhanadze’s democratic party "United Georgia" of, who also immediately distanced himself and defended the good name of the patriarch.

 

The shocking statements of the two high ranking figures threw the Georgian Church into the vortex of the controversies that have swallowed the whole country, so much so that even the last Sunday homily of Ilja II was interpreted as a political move: in it the patriarch, recalling the evangelical words on riches, recommended "not to condemn the rich generically", because, in addition to greedy and exploiters, there may be "talented people, and we Georgians are always ready to give to those who have more talent". These words were interpreted as a support for the president-magnate Bidzine Ivanishvili, founder of the Georgian Dream party.

The scandals and the controversies question the very close connection between the Orthodox Church and state politics in Georgia that has lasted for at least 25 years.

In Tbilisi the excesses of parties and movements that exalt the various models of religious nationalism are now too evident, similarly to Russia and other countries.

The harshness of the accusations also reveals a serious internal fracture to the Church and to the Orthodox episcopate: some prelates are in fact sympathizers of the deposed metropolitan Petr, who also was unanimously expelled by the bishops members of the Synod, for the scandalous violence of his insults towards the patriarch Ilia II.

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