Many proponents of European Union integration tend to see the Georgian Orthodox Church as an obstacle on Georgia’s path to Brussels. But a new initiative in Tbilisi aims to make the Church a firm supporter of closer EU ties.
Over 80 percent of Georgia’s 4.5 million citizens are Orthodox Christian, and public opinion polls routinely rank the Church as the country’s most trusted public institution.
Officially, the Church, which depends on government funding, is supportive of Georgia’s efforts to draw closer to the EU. Even so, many priests and parishioners worry EU integration efforts are compromising their faith, believing that the value system advanced by Brussels is at odds with Georgia’s relatively conservative social mores. They also worry that stronger EU ties could erode Georgia’s national identity.
In one prominent example of the Orthodox faithful’s wariness, Orthodox priests led a counter-demonstration to a LGBT rally in 2013. Dozens were injured in an ensuing riot.
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