Former PM Bidzina Ivanishvili, who announced about the launch of his non-governmental organization on February 4, said that criticism of the Georgian Orthodox Church should not be a taboo.
Ivanishvili made similar remarks in April, 2013 while serving as the PM, when he said that “problems exist” in the Georgian Orthodox Church too and speaking publicly on these issues should not be a taboo.
But this time Ivanishvili went even further by saying about the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, that he too makes mistakes and his words should not be perceived as something “untouchable”, criticizing it as an “overly fetishized” approach.
“I respect very much our history, traditions, the Church, the Orthodox Christianity,” Ivanishvili said. “I also highly respect the Patriarch and I have very warm relations with him and I love him very much.”
“But the society should overcome a barrier that the issue of Church is a taboo and everything that is said – no matter whether it is said by the Patriarch or some other cleric – is blameless and untouchable; such an approach, I think, is overly fetishized and it should not be like this,” he said.
“The Patriarch himself does not need it – it’s a disservice to him; and the Church does not need to be treated like this either.”
“The same problems that are in the society are also in the Church and that’s how it should be. The Church is part of our society,” Ivanishvili said.
“So this stance that exists in our society that the topic of the Church is a taboo, I think, is insulting for our society and the Church itself does not need it; such an attitude on the part of the society is not right,” he said.
“It [the Church] can also be criticized; they [clerics] can also make mistakes; bad things may also happen there [in the Church]; violations and misunderstanding might be taking place there too and there are such – I know it very well and you know it too and do not be afraid to speak about it. If you want it [the Church] to be better, we should speak about it; they also need criticism,” Ivanishvili said.
He made these remarks after he was asked at the press conference to comment on Patriarch’s Christmas address last month which voices Church’s strong opposition to surrogacy, artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization, suggesting that families having children born by surrogate mothers will not be happy and children born through artificial insemination “will be problematic too.”
“Everyone can make a mistake; the Patriarch too can make a mistake; he may declare something, but we can refuse to accept it – that’s normal. There is no need in dogmas; the Patriarch himself does not need it,” Ivanishvili said.
He said that personally for him artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization is not controversial at all; but added that commercial surrogacy “might be slightly controversial” and an issue for a debate.