Georgian, Russian Patriarchs to Meet in Kiev
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 25 Jul.'11 / 23:22

Head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Ilia II, will meet with Russian Patriarch Kirill in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, in the evening of July 26.

The two Patriarchs will be taking part in the events marking conversion to Christianity of Kievan Rus in 988.

The Georgian Patriarch told journalists before departure to Kiev on July 26, that he would discuss number of issues with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, including relations between Russia and Georgia.

Ilia II said that he was invited in Kiev by the Russian Patriarch and by Metropolitan Volodymyr, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate - the biggest branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church presided over by the Russian Patriarch. But some Ukrainian clergy refuse to recognise Russia's authority, accusing Moscow of blocking an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church from gaining international acceptance.

"Many issues will be discussed" during the meeting between the Georgian and Russian Patriarchs, the Georgian Orthodox Church's spokesman, Davit Sharashenidze, said on July 25.

He said that confrontation between various Orthodox clergy in breakaway Abkhazia, as well as the issue of the Georgian Orthodox Church's jurisdiction over Abkhazia would be among the topics discussed at the meeting. 

"We hope, that we will be able to restore our ecclesiastical jurisdiction over Abkhazia through relations with the Russian Church," the Georgian Patriarchate's spokesman said.

Formally the Russian Orthodox Church recognizes canonical borders of the Georgian Orthodox Church, which also includes Abkhazia and South Ossetia. But when the Russian Patriarch congratulated South Ossetian leader, Eduard Kokoity, with the region's "independence day" last September, the Georgian Church said it was "surprised" with this move.

After arrival in Ukraine on July 25, the Georgian Patriarch delivered a joint church service with Metropolitan Volodymyr in Kiev's Pecherska Lavra monastery, during which Ilia II prayed both in Georgian and Russian languages. Ilia II will stay in Kiev till July 30.

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