“The Basis of Unity of the Orthodox Church Lies Not in Papism, But Collegiality”
Metropolitan Ioane of Rustavi of the Georgian Church on the Phanar’s actions in Ukraine
On January 19, 2019, His Eminence Metropolitan Ioane of Rustavi of the Georgian Orthodox Church posted his thoughts on the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine in the context of the political situation in Ukraine on his Facebook page. The message was also posted on the Georgian website Tabula, as reported by the Press Service of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church with a reference to the Department of External Church Relations.
Commenting on the situation, Metropolitan Ioane recalled that the Georgian Orthodox Church, in a decision by its Holy Synod on December 27, 2019, expressed its opinion on the granting of autocephaly, that is, the independence of the Church in Ukraine.
According to the hierarch, “the statements and declarations of private, politically-biased individuals complicate the preservation of a healthy situation.”
“The military conflict between regions of Ukraine which has continued for over three years cannot morph into a religious conflict among the people who confess one faith,” noted Vladyka Ioane. “It is the common duty of the Universal Orthodox Church to preserve the unity of a people that confess one faith.”
The Georgian archpastor called upon everyone not to forget that the legal foundations of the Orthodox Church was formed in the 3rd through 8th centuries by the Ecumenical and Local Councils.
“In the decisions of these Councils, the relationship towards schismatic groups and to those who are excommunicated from the Church is precisely defined. The methods of their return to the bosom of the Church are also established. These canons are based on the Holy Gospel and Apostolic Tradition.”
He stressed that “the hierarchs of the Global Church remember how in the 1990’s they had a negative view of the unauthorized separation from the Mother Church of the former exarch of Ukraine, Metropolitan Philaret.”
“Despite this, the Constantinople Patriarchate has now unilaterally and in a one-sided manner decided to grant the status of an autocephalous Church to religious figures who were in schism for years,” emphasized Metropolitan Ioane. “The basis of the unity of the Orthodox Church lies not in unilateral papism, but in collegiality, which is reflected in the Creed.”
“At the same time,” continued His Eminence, “Let us note that the conditions for autocephaly which the Constantinople Patriarchate is offereing Ukraine and are outlined in the Tomos of January 6, 2019, more closely resemble the status of autonomy.”
The bishop of the Georgian Orthodox Church noted that ignored is the fact that the largest part of Orthodox Ukrainians remain in the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate and naturally form a part of the fullness of the Global Orthodox Church.
“For this reason we are guided by principles of legality and oikonomia, so that the spirit of schism does not reign among us. Let us pray for the reestablishment of unity within the Ukrainian people, together with whom we confess one faith,” implored Vladyka Ioane.
Worth noting that the Holy Synod of Georgia scheduled discussion of “the tense situation of the Orthodox Church and current affairs in Ukraine” for its next meeting. Today, January 22, a commentary was posted by the Director of the Press Service of the Georgian Patriarchate, Protopriest Andrea Dzhagmaidze, in which he reported on pressure being exerted on the Church and noted that the question requires exhaustive examination, and that any decision will be based exclusively on the canonical laws of the Church.
Earlier, Metropolitan Nikoloz (Pachuashvili) of Akhalkalaki and Kumurdo, in an interview with Interpressnews, stated that the Georgian Orthodox Church cannot concelebrate with bishops of the newly-formed “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”