“The churches of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are under the jurisdiction of the Georgian Church. It is bad that the Russia|n Church has interfered… That Moscow Patriarchate will recognize the autocephaly of Abkhazia, if Georgian Church recognizes autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church, it is blackmail with no basis,“ said the Ecumenical Patriarch in an exclusive interview TV Formula NEWS.
Journalist Georgе Targamadze asked whether the recognition of the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine by the Georgian Patriarchate could lead to the Moscow Patriarchate granting autocephaly to the Church in Abkhazia.
„The Moscow Patriarchate has no right to grant autocephaly not only to Abkhazia, but also to anyone in general. It has no such right. This is the exclusive prerogative of Constantinople, which is confirmed by the tradition and practice of the Orthodox Catholic Church over the centuries,“ said His All-Holiness.
The Ecumenical Patriarch recalled that in 1970 Moscow granted autocephaly to Orthodox Church in America.
„In this way, Moscow has become the richest Orthodox community in America. However, this pseudo-autocephalous church has not yet been recognized by anyone. And yet it calls itself Orthodox Church of America,“ he said.
„As for Your words, if the Georgian Patriarchate recognizes the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and the Moscow Patriarchate grants autocephaly to Abkhazia – then this is pressure and extortion, which is unfoundedaid,“ said Patriarch Bartholomew.
On January 5, 2019, the Ecumenical Patriarch signed the Tomos to grant autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The next day, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew handed over the Tomos to the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphanius, at St. George’s Cathedral in Fener. This officially ended the establishment of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The Georgian Patriarchate has not yet recognized the autocephaly of the OCU.
He also criticized Moscow for its non-interference in church affairs in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, noting that these regions are part of the Georgian Patriarchate’s jurisdiction.
„It is bad that the Moscow Patriarchate interferes in the internal affairs not only of your Church, but intervenes wherever it decides. It is about the idea of being the Third Rome and becoming the leader of the Orthodox, but, as you can see, for 600 years, from the fall of Constantinople to the present day, her wish has not been fulfilled and will never be fulfilled, because the Orthodox Church has its own canonical system. The Mother Church, as the coordinating center of Orthodoxy, desires unity. We want to love our brothers and our churches, but we also want to observe the Holy Canons that have kept our faith throughout the ages and brought us here„- said the Ecumenical Patriarch.
„It is anti-canonical for the Moscow Patriarchate to interfere in both the Church in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as they fall within the jurisdiction of the Georgian Patriarchate. It is bad that the Russian Church has interfered in their activities. The Russian Church uses political and military intervention in these regions (Russian occupation forces – Doxologia INFONEWS ) to its advantage, goes there and settles. Even, as far as I know, Moscow has its own Bishop, and she is happy with the situation„, said Patriarch Bartholomew.
„When I write official letters to His Beatitude the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, I address him with the title he desires. That is why I also call him Metropolitan of Abkhazia. The Ecumenical Patriarchate recognized Brother Daniel as Metropolitan of Abkhazia. I met him, if I am not mistaken, during my first visit to Georgia in 1978. Therefore, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has no doubt that these regions fall under the jurisdiction of the Georgian Patriarchate“ – concludes His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.