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Patriarchate of Georgia: We are Steadfast in Our Decision which is Based on Dogmatics

Patriarch of Georgia Responds to the Patriarch of Constantinople, Reiterating the Reasons for Not Participating in the Council

The News Agency has published the June 23rd response of the Patriarchate of Georgia*to the June 17th Letter of the Patriarch of Constantinople seeking a reversal of the Georgian Church's Synodical decision to not attend the Council.

The letter of the Patriarch of Georgia, Ilia, explains once again that the reasons for not participating are entirely on dogmatic grounds and in no way influenced by political considerations.

The main points of the letter are as follows:

1. The Holy Synod did not receive the Constantinopalian Patriarchate's letter of June 13th but learned of it through the news media. This is the reason for late response.

2. It is incorrect for anyone to attribute political or related interests as the reason for our decision to not attend the Council.

3. We are praying that the Council's decision will be acceptable to the entire Church.

4. The Church of Georgia has never agreed to the text "The Mystery of Marriage and Its Impediments." They do not consider it acceptable to overturn a canon of an Ecumenical Council (the 72nd of the Penthekte Ecumenical Council), which forbids mixed marriages, making it acceptable for a non-Orthodox to participate in a Mystery of the Church.

5. The Holy Synod has rejected this document both in its October 8th, 1998 session and again on the 25th of May, 2016. Moreover, the Church of Georgia did not accept it at the meeting of Primates in January. For those who cite our agreement to the decisions of the January Synaxis of Primates, which ordered the carrying out of the Great Council, we respond that these decisions we made before the vote of the Primates on the controversial text. We signed the above decisions for the Council in the hope that we would eventually come to agreement on all of the texts, which, however, did not come to pass.

6. Unfortunately, our Church likewise saw no fruit from our visit to the Phanar in April, when we asked that the text be removed from the agenda of the Council.

7. Even now we once again ask that this text not be included in the agenda of the Council, given that it has not been accepted on a Pan Orthodox level, nor agreed to by the Church of Antioch.

8. At the meeting of the Primates in January, we stated that the texts would, after being published and made known to the pleorma of the Church, be examined by the hierarchy of our Church. At our May 25th meeting of the hierarchy the following was decided:

A. The text, "Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World," contains serious ecclesiological and terminological errors and, as such, must be extensively re-worked. Short of this re-writing the Church of Georgia will be unable to agree to it.

B. The text, "The Mission of the Orthodxo Church in the Modern World," likewise absolutely requires certain changes, which we have indicated.

C. The text, "The Mystery of Marriage and Its Impediments," is, in its present form, unacceptable for the above mentioned dogmatic reasons.

The Patriarch then ends his letter with a plea to the Patriarch of Constantinople:

"We hope in your wisdom. Yet again, we express our hope that you avert the creation of problems in the body of the Church, as well as any decision-making, which will cast a shadow upon the unity of the Church."

*Summary and translation of excerpts of the Patriarchal letter by Fr. Peter Heers

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