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04.06.2019

Emergency meeting of the Council of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia

 

On 4 June 2019, an extraordinary meeting of the Council of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia was held in the New Athos Monastery.
In the meeting presented: Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar), Chairman of the Council of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia, Ruslan Pandaria, Mark Trapsh, Alkhas Tkhagushev, Miron Chalmaz, Dionis Yalanchidi; a member of the Council with an advisory vote: Akhra Argun also attended the meeting. Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia, the abbot of the monastery of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite, Hierodeacon David (Sarsaniya) took part in the video conference. Arda Ashuba and Temur Dzidzaria were absent.
The meeting was also attended by the deputies of the National Assembly, the Parliament of the Republic of Abkhazia: Nathalie Smyr and Batal Ayba, the head of the Administration of the New Athos Felix Dautia, deputies of the City Assembly of New Athos Ramaz Smyr, Dionis Yalanchidi, Almaskhan Bebia, Azamat Chuaz and Astanda Tariya and the employees of HMA.

The Chairman of the Council of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia told about the reason of the emergency meeting of HMA Council: since 11 May 2019, provocative actions by the clergy and representatives of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the AOC, do not stop.

Thus, on 1 June 2019, in the end of the evening service, the clergy of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Orthodox Church, led by Priest Vissarion Apliaa, attempted unauthorized Church service in one of the chapels of the cathedral of St. Great Martyr Panteleimon of New Athos Monastery. These actions provoked a spontaneous gathering of people on the territory of the New Athos monastery.

Inadequate, aggressive actions of the flock of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Abkhazian Orthodox Church and some persons invited by Priest Vissarion Apliaa almost led to clashes with the parishioners of the New Athos Monastery and the staff of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia. The presence of law enforcement structures of the Republic of Abkhazia was required in order to prevent negative consequences.

In the course of the dialogue between the leaders of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia and the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Abkhazian Orthodox Church, an oral agreement was reached through the mediation of the authorities of the city of New Athos:

  1. To make an appeal on behalf of the clergy of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Abkhazian Orthodox Church in the name of His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, with a request to withdraw the ban on the priesthood imposed on Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar).
  2. To send a delegation from the leadership and public of New Athos and representatives of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Abkhazian Orthodox Church to a meeting with the President of the Republic of Abkhazia Khadzhimba R.D., with a request to support the appeal of the Abkhazian Orthodox Church in the name of His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill to withdraw the ban on Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar).

After the announcement of the decisions by Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar) to the assembled people, the people left the territory of the monastery. In order to avoid a repetition of the events of June 2 (Sunday), the monastery was closed until 12:00.

On 3 June 2019, the President of the Republic of Abkhazia R. D. Khadzhimba met with a delegation consisting of the Head of Administration of New Athos Felix Dautia, the Chairman of the City Assembly of New Athos Ramaz Smyr, members of the public of New Athos – Miron Chalmaz and Nathalie Smyr, priests Vissarion Apliaa and Nikita Adleiba with the participation of Rezo Katsia, Advisor of the President of the Republic of Abkhazia on religious affairs.

During this meeting, a recommendation was adopted to prepare a text of the Appeal to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, with a request to withdraw the bans in ministry from the Abkhaz clerics – Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar) and Hieromonk Andrey (Ampar). It was decided as a basis to take the text of the Appeal, jointly prepared in the summer of 2018 by representatives of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Abkhazian Orthodox Church and the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia.

In addition, it was decided to hold divine services in the New Athos monastery by the clergy of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia and the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Abkhazian Orthodox Church, on June 5 and 6, 2019, alternately at different time in different parts of the cathedral church of the New Athos Monastery.

After setting out the above reasons for the emergency convocation of the Council of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia, Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar) presented to the Council a preliminary text of the Appeal to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, prepared on the basis of the joint text of the 2018 Appeal. Following the discussion and the wishes expressed by the members of HMA Council and the deputies, the following decision was made:

  1. Send to the President of the Republic of Abkhazia R. D. Khadzhimba representatives of the public of New Athos and the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia, deputy of the People’s Assembly – Parliament of the Republic of Abkhazia N. V. Smyr, head of the Administration of New Athos F. T. Dautiya, Chairman of the Meeting of New Athos R. N. Smyr , Deputy of the Assembly of New Athos, member of the Council of HMA D. P. Yalanchidi with the text of the Appeal to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill on lifting the ban in the service of Abkhaz clerics – Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar) and Hieromonk Andrey (Ampar) and to ask, according to recommendations from June 3 2019, to sign the final version of this document, the President of the Republic of Abkhazia Khajimba R.D. and the President of the Church Council of AOC, Priest Vissarion Apliaa.
  2. Contrary to the recommendations of June 3, 2019 if this document is not signed by the above-mentioned persons, the necessity and possibility of holding worship services by the clerics of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Abkhazian Orthodox Church on the territory of the New Athos Monastery on June 5 and 6 2019, unfortunately, will not be possible. The events of June 1, 2019 showed that the clergy of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Abkhazian Orthodox Church is not able to provide adequate behavior for their flock in the territory of the New Athos monastery.
  3. Prepare an appeal to the National Assembly, the Parliament of the Republic of Abkhazia on initiating a parliamentary investigation to verify the legality of the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Abkhazia of December 28, 2010 “On the Transfer of the Historical and Cultural Heritage of the Pitsunda and Sukhum Diocese of the Abkhazian Orthodox Church”, as well as agreements concluded by the Office of Conservation of Historical and Cultural Heritage with the Orthodox Church.
  4. Invite parishioners of the New Athos monastery and the flock of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia on Wednesday, June 5, 2019, at 12:00 in the monastery of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite for the purpose of explaining and discussing the current situation.