In a move that is likely to cause considerable irritation in Kiev, the Georgian Orthodox Church on Monday (7 June) hosted a delegation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that is loyal to the Moscow Patriarchate.
Ilia II, the Georgian Orthodox Church Patriarch, and his locum tenens, Metropolitan Shio met the delegation led by Bishop Antony.
The Georgian Orthodox Church Patriarchate said “the meeting was held in a brotherly and warm” atmosphere, where Bishop Anton talked about the situation in “the Ukrainian Orthodoxy".
The Ukraine’s Orthodox Church is split between the Moscow and Kiev-led Patriarchate following the decision of Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, to issue a tomos (decree) endorsing the establishment of an independent Ukrainian Church in January 2019. The move is highly sensitive for both Moscow and Kiev. The decision brought the relations between the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Patriarchate of Moscow to breaking point
The Georgian Orthodox Church that still recognises the leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate has up to now not recognised the new Ukrainian Church and its autocephaly (independence) from the Moscow Patriarchate. The situation is an awkward one for both the Georgian Church and the Georgian government given Tbilisi's close relationship with Kiev and their shared Euro-Atlantic aspirations. Only last week the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II received in Tbilisi the prime minister of Ukraine, Mr Denys Shmigal, during which the friendly relations between the two countries were emphasised.