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Russian Orthodox Church ‘Respects’ Georgian Church Authority over Abkhazia, S.Ossetia
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 16 Sep.'09 / 15:17

Russian Orthodox Church reiterates that it “respects canonical borders of the Georgian Patriarchate,” a spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate’s foreign relations department, Igor Yakimchuk, told Interfax news agency on September 16.

The remarks were made in response to the announcement by a group of Abkhaz clergy that the Abkhaz eparchy was formally separating from the authority of the Georgian Orthodox Church and requesting the Moscow Patriarchate to consider accepting the eparchy under its authority in a status of “autonomy”.

Ilia II, the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, said “we should not take that announcement seriously.” And a spokesman for the Georgian Orthodox Church said that the announcement was made by “self-proclaimed group and eparchy, which has nothing to do with any of canonical churches.”

On Monday head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s foreign relations department, Hilarion Alfeyev, the Archbishop of Volokolamsk, said that although “actually” Abkhazia and South Ossetia were not under the Georgian church’s authority, “change of political borders does not necessarily mean that church’s canonical borders should also be changed.”

“That is a basis of our external policy in respect of other Churches,” he said.

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