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Georgian and Russian Orthodox Church Vow to Jointly Resolve “Abkhazian Schism”

New Athos Monastery in Abkhazia, the site of a schism that Georgian and Russian church leaders have agreed to try to jointly resolve. (photo: Abkhazian Orthodox Church)

The governments of Georgia and Russia have no formal relations and remained locked in conflict over the breakaway territory of Abkhazia. The two countries' churches, however, have announced a surprising joint diplomatic effort to repair a schism in the Abkhazian church.

On November 1 Metropolitan Ilarion, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), met with the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC) Patriarch Ilia II. Formally, the visit was organized so Ilarion could invite Ilia to the upcoming December 4 centenary celebration of the restoration of the patriarchate in Russia.

However, the unusual visit by a high-ranking Russian clergyman soon turned to the sensitive issue of Abkhazia, the territory that broke away from Georgia in the 1990s and whose de facto government is now heavily backed by Russia.

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Georgian and Russian Orthodox Church Vow to Jointly Resolve “Abkhazian Schism”

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