Head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Ilia II, told Russia's Patriarch Kirill in a letter released on September 25 that it was a surprise to learn that he had congratulated Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia on "independence day" last week.
The news that "you have sent a message of congratulation to self-styled President of South Ossetia triggered sharply negative reaction among the parish and the entire Georgian society," the Georgian Patriarch said in a letter, which was posted on the patriarchate's official website.
"Such action is rather regretful and completely incomprehensible, because such move means supporting separatist regime, existing forcefully on the Georgia's ancient land, and recognizing [South Ossetia's] 'independence', which has been declared as illegal [by international community]."
"We remember personally your and the Russian Church's support to Georgia's and the Georgian Church's canonical borders. Therefore, the above mentioned step [by the Russian Church leader] was a total surprise," the Georgian Patriarch said. "We hope that you will again stand by justice... and foster good-neighborly relations between our countries."
The Russian Patriarch's message of congratulation was posed on the Russian Church's official website on September 20 saying: “Leadership and people of [South Ossetia] passed uneasy road towards the statehood building, social and economic development.”
“I would like to specially note importance of Russian-South Ossetian relations, directed towards strengthening of stability in the region,” the message reads.