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Open Letter of Georgian theologians to the holy synod of Orthodox Church of Georgia Support the Holy and Great Council!

The Press Office of the Ecumenical Patriarchate received this notification this morning.

This open letter of 13 Georgian theologians (which represent a new generation in this country) was published and widely circulated in Georgian media on 9th of June 2016. It is addressed to the Holy Synod of Orthodox Church of Georgia held on 10 June 2016. As a result Georgian Hierarchs ignored and did not take into account this letter finally declaring that they are not going to participate in Holy and Great Council.

Your Holiness and Beatitude, Your Eminences, Reverend members of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Georgia, metropolitans, archbishops and bishops

“Then the apostles and the elders, with the consent of the whole church, decided…” (Acts 15:22).

For a long time we observe carefully the preparation process for the Great and Holy Council and we hope that it will witness the unity of the Orthodox Church to the world. Unfortunately, various major and minor obstacles emerged threatening this excellent initiative. Some recent developments in the Orthodox Church of Georgia suggests that the official delegation of our Church will not take part in the Great and Holy Council, which will take place from 16 to 26 June in Crete.

If our church refuses to go to this pan-Orthodox council we will stand in complete isolation from the Christian world. It is not hard to realize the very negative consequences of such decision not only for the whole Orthodoxy but first of all for the Orthodox Church of Georgia. Thus we ask humbly the Holy Synod, which will gather tomorrow in Tbilisi on June 10, carry out the commitment taken in January this year to participate in the Council in the mid-June 2016.

The aspiration of the Orthodox Church to show herself as "one, holy, catholic and apostolic church" and to give unanimous answer to modern challenges are hindered and criticized by fundamentalist and ultraconservative religious groups in our local church. These extremist groups of priests and believers disseminate false and incorrect information about the upcoming council. The Patriarchate of Georgia does not reacting against these destructive forces in a proper way. On the contrary, it sometimes even justify their activity as a defense of Orthodoxy.

The orthodox world around us is divided mainly in two major “camps”: pro-Constantinople and pro-Moscow Orthodox churches. If the Orthodox Church of Georgia will not attend the upcoming Council in Crete, it will confirm once again that our church is ally Moscow Patriarchate which is an instrument of the Kremlin disgusting policy in post-Soviet countries.

[The passage of detailed critique of the critical views on the draft documents of the H&G Council which were disseminated in Georgian religious circles before the Holy Synod is omitted in this short version]

Lastly, we are convinced that the final decisions of the Council will be crucial for the Orthodox Church of Georgia as well as for the whole Orthodox and un-Orthodox Christian world, insofar as they address the challenges that an Orthodox believer faces in the modern world. We believe that there are no insurmountable obstacles in the way of the Council’s proper functioning. The spirit of the draft documents are in full agreement with the Orthodox theological and canonical tradition and hence deserves to be received by any local Orthodox Church, her clergy and lay people. Thus we support this pan-Orthodox Council and pray for it. May the Father, our God through his the only-begotten Son in the Holy Spirit bestow his grace upon the assembled bishops and imprint their decisions with his wisdom.

Signatures:

  1. Givi Lomidze, PhD in Theology, Habilitand
  2. Zurab Jashi, PhD in Historical Theology
  3. David Tinikashvili, PhD in Church History
  4. Irakli Tskhadadze, PhD researcher in Sociology of Religion
  5. Kakha Gogishvili, PhD researcher in Theology
  6. Mirian Gamrekelashvili, PhD researcher in Theology
  7. Erekle Turqadze, MA in Theology
  8. Shota Kintsurashvili, MA student in Theology
  9. Giorgi Khimshiashvili, MA student in Theology
  10. Shalva Jikhvadze, MA student in Theology
  11. Grigol Chezhia, MA in Theology
  12. Beqa Mindiashvili, BA in Theology
  13. Vakhtang Kokolashvili, BA in Theology

This is a short version of the letter in English. For an original version of the full length letter (in Georgian), click here.

German translation of this very text is also available here.