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Georgia’s President Backs Autocephaly of Ukrainian Church

President Salome Zurabishvili has spoken in favor of the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from the Moscow Patriarchate, making her the first Georgian leader to do so.

President Zurabishvili’s remarks came following a prayer service at the Sioni (Zion) Cathedral in Tbilisi on the day of restoration of the autocephaly of the Georgian Orthodox Church on March 25.

“Russia has lost all moral rights to be [seen as] a co-believer in any other Orthodox Church,” Salome Zurabishvili told reporters.

Recalling Moscow’s bloody invasion in Ukraine, Georgia’s President asserted today “a strong, free, Ukrainian nation is actually born there.”

Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople signed a tomos (decree) granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in January 2019, ending Russia’s centuries-old religious control on Ukraine.

The Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church — that maintains cordial ties with the Moscow Patriarchate despite problematic inter-state relations — decided to take a cautious stance on the matter and has not yet recognized the independence of the Ukrainian Church from Moscow.

Some high-ranking Georgian clerics however expressed support in their individual capacity to the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

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