Leaders of the ruling Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia party attended a solemn service held at Mtskheta’s Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, one of the most revered religious sites for many Georgian Orthodox believers, and congratulated Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Ilia II on the 42nd anniversary of his enthronement.
In his address, Bidzina Ivanishvili, chairman of the ruling party, spoke about the huge role played by the Georgian Orthodox Church and the Patriarch and noted that during 42 years, amid numerous of challenges and perils, “frequently, the Church as well as his Holiness was the greatest stronghold.”
“As far as you know, our everyday or spiritual life is difficult and all of these need very organized and careful management,” Ivanishvili said. “The State and the Church are performing their functions smoothly so that we overcome all challenges and lead our country towards victory.”
Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia also congratulated the Orthodox Patriarch on his enthronement. He said that every year since the Georgian Patriarch’s enthronement had been difficult, but “the country has emerged victorious with His Holiness as its shepherd.” Gakharia stressed the Patriarch’s contribution to “maintaining calmness and peace in the country.”
Speaking about the Georgian Orthodox Church Patriarch’s contribution, Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze noted that “many churches were built over the past years and people returned to the faith.” “Myself, as a citizen, a member of our large family, express my gratitude to the Patriarch for his huge contribution [to the country],” the Parliament Speaker said.
Ilia II, 86, was elected as the new Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia on December 25, 1977.
On November 23, 2017, Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II named Metropolitan Shio Mujiri of the Eparchy of Senaki and Chkhorotsku as the Patriarchal locum tenens.
According to the statute of the Georgian Orthodox Church, the locum tenens will temporary govern the Church after the Patriarchal throne becomes vacant, as well as organize the process of election of a new Patriarch.