Voices from Russia

Friday, 24 May 2013

Patriarch Ilia Regrets Clergy’s Ill-Advised Actions in 17 May Events



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

Civil Georgia


Editor’s Note:

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.




Friday, 17 May 2013

Patriarch Ilia Called for Calm After Orthodox Groups Thwarted Gay Rights Rally

00 Patriarch Ilie of Georgia. 20.01.13


Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia Ghudushauri-Shiolashvili, the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, called for calm after violence erupted after aggressive anti-gay protesters, led by Orthodox clergy, thwarted a rally by a small group of gay rights activists to mark International Day Against Homophobia on 17 May. Patriarch Ilia said in televised remarks on Friday evening, “We distance ourselves from violence”. However, in reference to the gay rights rally, he said, “It’s something that shouldn’t be propagandised. We should know that this is a sin before God. We can express our sorrow without interfering in anyone’s private life. I hope that everything will calm down. I call on our people on all sides to go from the streets and return back home and to pray for each other”.

On 16 May, the Patriarch released a written statement calling on the authorities to ban the gay rights rally in downtown Tbilisi. Speaking to Orthodox believers gathered in Holy Trinity Cathedral, after the 17 May developments in Tbilisi, a senior cleric, Bishop Jakob Iakobishvili of Gardabani and Martqopi, said, “What happened today was an order coming from the nation. You know very well that the United National Movement required two-and-a-half months to gather 5,000 people [for its 19 April rally], then, they boasted, ‘See how many people we gathered’. Today, people came into [the streets] on their own initiative… Several millions would’ve come [into the streets] if needed”.

17 May 2013

Civil Georgia


Editor’s Note:

What the Church opposes absolutely is “gay propaganda”… that is, the suborning of minors and gay rights marches are beyond the pale. On the other hand, the Church takes a nuanced view of individual homosexuals… unlike the crazed konvertsy in the USA and their hysterical leaders such as Paffhausen and Moriak (Paffhausen shouldn’t have thrown stones given his mentor and hierarchical sponsor… the roads in his case DO lead to Platina and Dallas). The Church does NOT agree with sectarian Evangelical nonsense.

In short… some people overreacted and the Patriarch made it clear that the Church doesn’t condone violence… even violence supposedly in the service of “morality”. We don’t resort to the iron boot to impose “moral behaviour” (such is a contradiction in terms, no?). That’s the way of it in Christ’s Church…


Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Will Georgia Ban Abortions?

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo. Respect for Life from Beginning to End. 2012


The Georgian state has begun thinking of banning abortions after influential Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Ilia Ghudushauri-Shiolashvili pitched the idea in his Easter sermon on 5 May. Many churches may be pro-life, but in this devout Christian country, which cherishes the Church leader above any other public figure, words from the patriarch can carry as much power as papal bulls once did in Europe. During his sermon, the patriarch called on the government to stop the “terrible sin” of abortion and “filicide”, aside from a few circumstantial exceptions. He blamed both Bolshevikatheists” from the past and modern liberal philosophy for the prevalence of abortions. Georgia tops the South Caucasus for abortions, with 408 performed per 1,000 live births, according to a study by the WHOthe Caucasus Research Resource Centres reported (By comparison, the EU rate is 222 per 1,000 live births).

Georgian government officials, who can’t hold a candle to the patriarch in terms of public support, quickly gave the nod to the Church on considering an abortion ban. Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili responded by saying that baby-boosting legislation is in order. However, he sensibly suggested that if one wanted to improve the country’s bleak demographic situation, the focus should be on economic incentives rather than abortions. Amongst top Georgian officials, only female Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani ventured to express outright scepticism, saying that the ban could make abortion an underground business. She said that prohibiting informing parents about the sex of a future child is as far as she is personally willing to go as a way to prevent selective abortions, which favour boys.

With one eye on the country’s modest population of 4.48 million, the patriarch has long pushed Georgians to have more babies. After he offered to baptise every third child as an incentive, the Church held mass baptism ceremonies several times a year. Now, he’s proposed to cash-strapped parents that, rather than aborting any additional children, they hand them over to the Church’s care. However, gender researcher Nargiza Arjevanidze cautioned that Georgia’s Soviet experience actually illustrates the dangers of an abortion ban. She said in comments to EurasiaNet that a ban during the Stalin era “led to the rise of back-room abortions that often ended in health complications and even death. Another ban could result in similar problems. Those who can afford it would travel to neighbouring countries; others would resort to illegal procedures”. She believes than an anti-abortion law would do little to reduce Georgia’s high abortion rate. Rather, Arjevanidze thinks that promotion of contraception and family planning is the real need.

7 May 2013

Georgi Lomsadze



Editor’s Note:

There are those who believe that we can solve the problems associated with abortion by simply outlawing it, and making those who provide it criminals. That’s simply hogwash of the worst possible sort. Before Roe, abortion was readily available to women who had the money to pay for it. Those who didn’t have the money to access proper medical intervention turned to quacks or “homebrew solutions”. In short, there was plenty of abortion going on despite the formal ban on the procedure.

In any case, the Church doesn’t bless political action to solve moral problems. That’s a Catholic solution (said with no rancour towards individual Catholics). It’s not Christ’s solution… it’s the solution of Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor. That is, when we try to address moral problems with the police power of the state rather than with the moral authority of Our Lord Christ, not only does the effort usually fail, it ends in exacerbating the problem. Thus, to march in “Pro-life” rallies and to support rightwing politicians because they’re anti-abortion is clearly anti-Christian (it certainly ain’t Orthodox).

St Serafim Vyritsky didn’t carry on a political protest… he prayed for the Soviet state and for its conversion. He prayed for the victory of the Red Army in the VOV, as that was preferable to a Fascist victory. He was typical of many in the Church. We didn’t carry signs… we didn’t sign petitions… we prayed. That’s right… we prayed. It worked. By the 1980s, the KPSS abandoned the anti-religious struggle… the rebirth of the Church began, not in 1991, but in 1985. If all things are equal, then, Christ calls on us to pray. He calls on us to aid unwed mothers anonymously. He calls on us to show civility to Pro-Choice people. I’ll tell you a “secret”… virtually all Pro-Choice people view abortion as a nasty alternative, one that they’d like to see minimised. They’re not pro-abortion ogres. We should have nothing to do with Randall Terry and all those even remotely of his ilk.

To take the current Pro-Life narrative as a given is to reduce a full-blown moral dilemma (for there’s no “clean” moral solution to the abortion mess) to a cartoonish, juvenile, and fundamentally-untrue fairy tale. It’s not simply “good anti-abortionists” against “evil pro-abortionists”. It’s a case where all people who favour life over death (and most Pro-Choice people DO fall in that category) have to face stern reality and unyielding facts. We can have our own opinions, but we can’t have “our own facts”.

Are we Christians? Are we Orthodox Christians? Then, we face the dilemma that Dostoyevsky posed using the figure of the Grand Inquisitor. Think hard on that one… remember, “simple” doesn’t mean “easy”, it doesn’t mean “obvious”. Do bear in mind St Serafim praying for four years for the victory of the Red Army… it led to setting up a situation that led eventually to the relaxation of the ‘80s that led to the Church’s liberation. In like manner, we may have to keep abortion legal in order to reduce it.

I fear that many will call me pro-abortion for what I’ve written. One takes that risk. I’m not such, but you have no control over what others think of what one says or does. However, I’ll say this much… I’ve got the guts and grit to speak my mind, and that’s being “honest to God”. I don’t think that displeases the Almighty… and I’m not alone in thinking that way…


Sunday, 20 January 2013

Patriarch Ilya of Georgia to Meet Putin in Moscow



According to sources in the Georgian Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church, the First Hierarch of the Church of Georgia, Catholicos Patriarch Ilya Ghudushauri-Shiolashvili, will meet President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on 23 January. Patriarch Ilya, who left for Moscow on Sunday, is visiting Russia to receive an award from International Foundation for the Unity of Orthodox Christian Nations (IFUOCN) {editor: a paper “rotten borough” organisation with no real existence). IFUOCN grants awards annually to political and religious leaders, as well as public figures, for contribution to “strengthening the unity of the Orthodox Christian nations”. The award ceremony will be at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow on 22 January.

Archpriest Giorgi Zviadadze, a Church of Georgia spokesman, told journalists in Tbilisi on Sunday before the Georgian Church delegation left for Moscow, “A meeting of the Georgian Patriarch and the Russian Patriarch [Kirill] with President Vladimir Putin is scheduled for 23 January”. President Putin sent greetings to Patriarch Ilya, who marked his 80th birthday this month and the 35th anniversary of his enthronement in December, and said in his message that Patriarch Ilya’s leadership of the Church of Georgia was “exemplary” and his contribution to strengthening of Orthodoxy in Georgia “invaluable”. Putin went on to say, “We highly appreciate your warm relations with Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church (sic). Your personal efforts, your calls for peace, love, creativity, accord, and unity have largely contributed to maintaining multi-century ties of friendship and mutual understanding between our peoples during a difficult stage of history. I’m sure that fruitful spiritual, cultural, and humanitarian dialogue will become a reliable foundation for further development of relations between Russia and Georgia”. Mikhail Shvydkoy, Putin’s special envoy for international cultural relations, conveyed Putin’s greetings during his visit to Tbilisi on 11 January, when he attended events in the Georgian capital marking Patriarch Ilya’s birthday and enthronement anniversaries.

21 January 2013 (MSK)

Civil Georgia


Editor’s Note:

Here’s the 64,000 Dollar Question… is Ilya going to meet Nino Burdzhanadze in Moscow? If he meets with her, shall it be open or covert? Now, that’s something worth knowing. The so-called Georgian Dream coalition only agrees on one thing… the toppling of Saakashvili. Ivanishvili has no political experience… he’s a rich “empty suit”. Georgian Dream includes factions that range from former communists to pro-Western Free Market lickspittles such as Ivanishvili. It simply is too amorphous to last… that’s why I believe that Ilya’s going to meet with Burdzhanadze in Moscow. She’s the only Georgian leader with any real ability and cred. This trip is proof that Langley’s efforts to make Georgia a reliable American lapdog have failed. Remember, Fathausen went to Georgia a while back… it appears that his mission was in vain (after all, he’s in thrall to the worst Russophobic elements in the US Republican Party).

We’ll see… Georgia’s in flux… and the USA is about to lose its only reliable ally in the former Soviet space. Shall Saakashvili survive? On the other hand, shall he end as an embittered second-rate émigré professor at a third-rate American college (with a “fellowship” at one of the K Street stink-tanks)? Time will tell us… I’d bet on the latter outcome…


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