On Wednesday, Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia Ghudushauri-Shiolashvili, the First Hierarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, said that Orthodox priests acted in an ill-advised manner during the developments on 17 May in downtown Tbilisi when a crowd led by Orthodox clergy disrupted an attempted anti-homophobia rally. Patriarch Ilia said at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi, “What happened on 17 May is very regrettable. The ideas that [gay rights activists] wanted to propagate here are completely unacceptable in Georgia. However, it’s also very regrettable that Georgian clergy acted in an ill-advised manner, and I want to urge everyone to remain calm”.
Later that same day, the Georgian Patriarchate released a written statement expressing “regret” over the 17 May developments, saying that the Church would take “appropriate measure” against those clerics involved in the violence. The statement said that an attempt to hold a gay rights rally in downtown Tbilisi “was of provocative nature. In a country where the absolute majority of the population follows Christianity and other traditional religions, such rallies are perceived by the population as propaganda of homosexuality, which causes their fair protest”.
It said that venue of the intended rally, outside the former parliamentary building on Tbilisi’s main thoroughfare, Rustaveli Avenue, was “an additional irritating and provocative factor”. It described the venue as having “strong emotional ties” to Georgia’s “historical memory and traditions”. The statement went on to say, “The country can’t tolerate legalisation of a sin. The Church loves human beings and because of this love, it fights against sin for the salvation of souls. Despite that, there’s no excuse for violence. We unequivocally distance ourselves from the aggressive actions from the part of demonstrators, which weren’t within either legal or religious norms. It’s regrettable that clerics were involved in these processes. These separate individuals damaged the entire Church. The Patriarchate will examine their actions and we’ll take appropriate measures. It should also be noted that if were not for the efforts of large part of clergy and brave actions of the police, consequences would have been much more severe”.
23 May 2013
Let’s keep it simple. Patriarch Ilia is going to lower the boom on the clerics nicked by the coppers. Then, he’ll say, “See, we disciplined these jabronies, there’s no need for you to act”. Trust me, that’s going to be the result. The Church CONDEMNS violence, even when it’s supposedly for a “good cause”, especially, when clerics egg people on to such acts. The Church paid bitterly for tolerating the Black Hundreds… I do daresay that it learned its lessons. The konvertsy can be quiet… Patriarch Ilia’s gonna act, for charges have been laid against at least two of the clerics. We’re in Christ‘s Church, NOT the Church of the Grand Inquisitor.