President Raul Khadzhimba had a meeting with the clergy of the Abkhazian Orthodox Church.
Head of the Administration of the President Beslan Bartsits also participated in the meeting.
The church situation in Abkhazia was discussed, in particular, ways to harmonise the relations within the church and develop the church life in the state.
The President stated that the situation of the split within the church is difficult. “As the Head of State, I do not want any confrontation. There are many conflicts in our society as it is, and the spiritual sphere should unite people, not divide them”, - said the President.
Raul Khadzhimba called on those present to settle all disputes within the church through a dialogue and based on law, without doing anything that would reignite the existing conflict. “The Day of the Apostle Simon the Zealot on May 23 should be celebrated without any incidents. It is important not to escalate the situation”.
“We all support the autocephaly of the Abkhazian church. Yet, unfortunately, achieving it is a long and painstaking process, which requires the unity of everyone’s efforts. This question cannot be solved by addressing the Patriarchate of Constantinople. It is been long known what questions will be on the agenda of the next Ecumenical Council. I think that it is wrong to deceive oneself and the people. I want the question of the autocephaly of the Abkhazian Church to be solved on this Council. Unfortunately, it is impossible”, - remarked the President.
With regards to the question of the citizens’ assembly in the Monastery of Simon the Zealot in 2011, the President said: “I took part in the first church assembly, which was organised by the ‘Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia’, to discuss the question of the autocephaly of the Abkhazian church, but not to protect the interests of some individuals. Thus, there is no need to speculate on this”.
The President believes that questions related to the use of Abkhazian monasteries should be regulated by the law, in particular, by a corresponding resolution of the Government. “We are not talking about ownership, but about temporary use. These are objects of historical and cultural heritage and they have been given for free use to the Pitsunda-Sukhum diocese of the Abkhazian Orthodox Church, including the Monastery of the Holy Apostle Simon the Zealot in New Athos”, - stressed Raul Khadzhimba.
At the end of the meeting, the President expressed hope that the disputes within the church will be soon settled for the benefit of all people of Abkhazia.