Meeting of the Holy Synod of the Church of Georgia on the Upcoming Council

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June 1, 2016

Minutes of the Session of the Holy Synod
(5.25.2016)
:

On May 25, 2016, the regular plenary session of the Holy
Synod of the Orthodox Church of Georgia was held at the
Patriarchate of Georgia. The Catholicos-Patriarch of All
Georgia Ilia II acted as the Chairman of the session.

Metropolitan Shio (Mujiri) of Senaki and Chkhopotsku was
appointed Secretary of the session. The
Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II gave an
opening speech in which he greeted the members of the Holy
Synod and congratulated the Georgian nation on the Day of
the Restoration of Independence.

Besides this, two deplorable facts, which took place
recently in Georgia, were mentioned at the session. The
first of them was the murder of Giorgi Otkhozoria, a
resident of the Region of Gali, internally displaced from
Apkhazeti. This atrocious crime took place in the village
of Khurcha. The Holy Synod expressed their condolences to
the family of the deceased and pray for his soul. Also,
the Holy Synod expressed their disapproval of the incident
which took place in the village of Kortskheli.

The Holy Synod called every political and social
organisation to direct their efforts towards mutual
respect and peace.

The Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia spoke on the
significance of the Holy and Great Council and thanked the
clergy and lay people who had participated in the
preliminary work which preceded the Council. Following
this, the floor was given to the hierarchs of the Holy
Synod who were requested to express their opinions on the
documents drawn up for the Council.

The representative of the Church of Georgia in the
Secretariat of the Holy Council, Metropolitan Andrew
(Gvazava) of Gori and Ateni, gave a short analysis of the
mentioned documents. Metropolitan Theodore (Tchuadze) of
Akhaltsikhe and Tao-Klarjeti spoke on the documents
“The Sacrament of Marriage and Impediments to
It” and “The Mission of the Orthodox Church in
the Contemporary World”.

The Holy Synod concluded that two places in the text of
“The Sacrament of Marriage and Impediments to
It” require alterations, which are, specifically:

Article 10 of the subchapter “Orthodox
Marriage”; Subparagraph “a” of article 5
in the subchapter “Impediments to Marriage”;

Article 10 of the subchapter “Orthodox
Marriage” reads: “The Church does not accept a
marriage between her members of the same sex; neither does
she accept any kind of living together other than that
within the bond of Holy Matrimony. The Church directs all
her pastoral efforts towards the goal that her members
living within such bonds attain true repentance and love,
blessed by the Church”.

This subparagraph must be changed in the following way:

“The Church cannot accept a sexual relationship
between persons of the same sex, neither can she accept
any kind of living together other than in Holy Matrimony,
and condemns this sin. The Church is concerned about the
eternal lot of the immortal souls of people who continue
to live with such a sin, and directs all her pastoral
efforts towards their help in cognizing the extreme
grievance of this sin to depart from it by way of the true
repentance”.

Subparagraph “a” of article 5 of the second
subchapter of “Impediments to Marriage” reads:

“Marriage between the Orthodox and the non-Orthodox
is forbidden according to the canonical akriveia and is
not blessed (canon 72 of the Trullo Council); however, it
can be blessed through tolerance and loving-kindness, but
only on condition that the children born within such a
marriage will be baptised and brought up in the bosom of
the Orthodox Church”.

In the aforementioned article, the first part of the text
must be maintained, which reads: “Marriage between
an Orthodox and a non-Orthodox is forbidden according to
the canonical acribia and is not blessed (canon 72 of the
Trullo Council);” but the second part, which reads:
“however, it can be blessed through tolerance and
loving-kindness, but only on condition that the children
born within such a marriage will be baptised and brought
up in the bosom of the Orthodox Church”, must be
removed as it contradicts the 72nd canon of the Sixth
Ecumenical Council.

As is known, no council can contradict, cancel or alter
any of the canons adopted by the Ecumenical Councils.

In the document “The Mission of the Orthodox Church
in the Contemporary World” the following alterations
must be made:

From the main subtitle, which reads: “The
Contribution of the Orthodox Church in the Cause of
Attaining Peace, Justice, Freedom, Brotherhood and Love
Among Nations, in Order to Eradicate Racial
Discrimination, and Also to Eradicate Other Types of
Discrimination”, the phrase – “and Also
to Eradicate Other Types of Discrimination” –
must be removed since it leaves room for a versatile
understanding of the text.

Subparagraph 3 of subtitle “a” of the same
document (“The Dignity of the Human Person”)
reads: “A general acknowledgment of the dignity of a
human person could be considered a precondition for a
wider collaboration in this field. Local Orthodox Churches
are called to put their mite in to inter-religious
dialogue and collaboration; and while doing so, in
prevailing over a manifestation of any kind of fanaticism
in order to help promote friendship among peoples, freedom
and peace in the entire world, for the benefit of every
human being irrespective of their race and religious
adherence. This implies that this collaboration excludes
syncretism as well as attempts of violence from any
religion over other religions”.

According to the provisions of the Synod, the
aforementioned text should be formulated in the following
form: “In this field, we could consider the general
acknowledgement of the dignity of a human person as a
precondition for a wider collaboration. The Orthodox
Churches are called to put their mite into interreligious
dialogue and collaboration, and while doing so, in
prevailing over any manifestation of fanaticism, to help
promote friendship among peoples, freedom and peace in the
entire world for the benefit of every human being, with
the objective of their purification, deification and
salvation in the Kingdom of God, irrespective of their
race or adherence to their religion. This implies that
this collaboration excludes syncretism as well as attempts
of violence from any religion over other religions. This,
naturally, does not imply the denial of the missionary
work of the Holy Church”.

In the first paragraph of subtitle “c”
(“On Freedom and Justice”) the following text
must be retained:

“The Orthodox Church primordially has acknowledged
and declared that peace and justice take central place in
the lives of peoples. In Christ this revelation is
characterised as the “gospel of peace” (Ephes.
6:15) since Christ “having made peace through the
blood of his cross” (Col. 1:20), “preached
peace to you who were afar off and to those who were
near” (Ephes. 2:17). He became “our
peace” (Ephes. 2:14). This peace, “which
surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7), as our
Lord Himself told His Disciples before the Crucifixion, is
broader and more meaningful than that peace which is
promised by this world: “Peace I leave with you, My
peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to
you
(John 14:27)”.

But the second part of the same article which says:
“The peace of Christ is a mature fruit of
ingathering in it of everything: a human person, as the
image of God, the expression of the dignity and glory of
the human generation and Universe, the conventionality of
the principles of peace, freedom and social justice, and
lastly, the reaping of the fruit of Christian love among
men and among the peoples of the world” – must
be removed.

In the text also remains the last section of the text:
“The true peace is the fruit of the consolidation of
all Christian principles. This is the peace granted from
Heaven which the Orthodox Church prays for in her everyday
prayers, implores the Almighty God Who hears the prayers
of those who come to Him with faith”.

Thus, the first article will be stated as follows:
“The Orthodox Church has primordially confessed and
proclaimed that peace and justice take central place in
peoples’ lives. In Christ this revelation is
characterised as the “gospel of peace” (Ephes.
6:15) since Christ “having made peace through the
blood of his cross” (Col. 1:20), “preached
peace to you who were afar off and to those who were
near” (Ephes. 2:17). He became “our
peace” (Ephes. 2:14). This peace, “which
surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7), as our
Lord Himself told His Disciples before the Crucifixion, is
broader and more meaningful than that peace which is
promised by this world: “Peace I leave with you, My
peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to
you (John 14:27)”. The true peace is the fruit of
the consolidation of all Christian principles. It is peace
given from Heaven which the Orthodox Church prays for in
her everyday prayers, implores the Almighty God Who hears
the prayers of those who come to Him with faith”.

Metropolitan Stephen (Kalaijishvili) of Tsageri and
Lentekhi gave a talk on the document “The Attitude
of the Church to the Rest of the Christian World”.
Also were read notes written on the mentioned document by
Professor Edisher Chelidze of Tbilisi Theological Academy
and Seminary. On the text, various opinions were expressed
by Metropolitan Anania (Japaridze) of Manglisi;
Metropolitan Grigol (Berbichashvili) of Poti and Khobi;
Metropolitan Nicholoz (Pachuashvili) of Akhalkalaki and
Kumurdo; Metropolitan Peter (Tsaava) of Chkondidi;
Metropolitan Ioane (Gamrekeli) of Rustavi; and
Metropolitan Jacob (Iakobishvili) of Bodbe.

It was noted that the document had been from its inception
unacceptable for the representatives of the Church of
Georgia and that it had only been signed at the
preliminary meeting because the following sentence was
written in the text: “The Orthodox Churches of
Georgia and Bulgaria left the World Council of Churches;
the first of them left it in 1997 and the latter –
in 1998, since they have their own opinions on the
activity of the World Council of Churches which is why
they do not participate in the events of the mentioned
Council and other activities of the inter-Christian
organisations.”

The Holy Synod has concluded that the mentioned document
contains ecclesiological and terminological errors and
requires serious alterations. If the alterations are not
made, the Church of Georgia will not sign the text.

On the initiative of Metropolitan Grigol (Berbichashvili)
of Poti and Khobi, the Holy Synod has determined: a
theological group should be created which will present
their proposals on a number of theological questions to
the Holy Synod.

The Holy Synod heard the speech of Metropolitan Sabba
(Gigiberia) of Khoni and Samtredia on the organisational
questions.

The Holy Synod has named the members of the delegation of
the Church of Georgia. The following is a list of those
named:

The Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II;
Metropolitan Kalistrate (Margalitashvili of Kutaisi and
Gaenti;
Metropolitan Daniel (Datuashvili) of Sachkhere and
Chiatura;
Metropolitan Anania (Japaridze) of Manglisi;
Metropolitan Giorgi (Shalamberidze) of Tkibuli and
Terjola;
Abba Metropolitan David (Makharadze) of Alaverdi;
Metropolitan Sergi (Chekurishvili) of Nekresi;
Metropolitan Joseph (Kikvidze) of Shemokmedi;
Metropolitan Nicholoz (Pachuashvili) of Akhalkalaki and
Kumurdo, and of South America;
Metropolitan Theodore (Chuadze) of Akhaltsikhe and
Tao-Klarjeti;
Metropolitan Sabba (Gigiberia) of Khoni and
Samtredia;
Metropolitan Gerasim (Sharashenidze) of Zugdidi and
Tsaishi;
Metropolitan Andrew (Gvazava) of Gori and Ateni;
Metropolitan Stephan (Kalaijishvili) of Tsageri and
Lentekhi;
Metropolitan Shio (Mujiri) of Senaki and Chkhorotsku and
of Australia;
Metropolitan Ioane (Gamrekeli) of Rustavi;
Archbishop Spiridon (Abuladze) of Skhalta;
Archbishop Luke (Lomidze) of Sagarejo and
Ninotsminda;
Bishop Michael (Gabrichidze) of Tianeti and
Pshav-Khevsureti;
Bishop Dimitri (Kapanadze) of Khornabuji and Hereti;
Bishop Damian (Khupenia) of Samtavisi and Kaspi;
Bishop Grigol (Katsia) of Tsalka;
Bishop Dositheos (Bogveradze) of Belgium and
Holland;
Bishop Sabba (Intskirveli) of North America;
Bishop Vakhtang (Liparteliani) of Nikortsminda;
Protopresbyter Giorgi Zviadadze;
Archimandrite David Chincharauli;
Archpriest David Sharashenidze;
Archpriest Kakhaber Gogotishvili;
Hieromonk Michael Bregvadze;
Monk Anthimoz (Javakhishvili).

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