08.03.2019

Meeting of HMA Council was held

On 8 March, 2019 a meeting of the Council of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia was held.

In the meeting took part: Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar), Hierodeacon David (Sarsania), Ruslan Pandaria, Mark Trapsh, Alkhas Tkhagushev, Miron Chalmaz, Dionis Yalanchidi; Council members with an advisory vote also attended the meeting: Akhra Argun and Temur Dzidzaria. Arda Ashuba was absent.

The meeting of the Council was also attended by deputies of the National Assembly – Parliament of the Republic of Abkhazia Nathalie Smyr and Raul Lolua, deputy of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Abkhazia, state councillor Renat Karchaa, residents of New Athos and employees of HMA.

On the agenda there were considered proposals of the clergy of the Sukhum-Pitsunda diocese of the Orthodox Church of 5 March 2019:

• “On the self-annulment of Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar) from the holding of church services in the monastery of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite in New Athos”;

• “On the holding of church services by the clergy of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Orthodox Church at the Cathedral of St. Panteleimon of the New Athos monastery.

During the meeting, the views of all members of HMA Council on the above issues were heard. The Chairman of the Council of HMA, Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar) told about the background of the situation and his vision of ways out of it.

The abbot of the monastery of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite, Hierodeacon David (Sarsania) also informed Council members about the proposals that were made by the clergy of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the AOC, headed by Priest Vissarion Apliaa. They arrived at the New Athos monastery on 5 March, 2019.

Hierodeacon David (Sarsania) categorically spoke in favor of maintaining the status quo in order to avoid consequences of an adverse nature.

Miron Chalmaz categorically refused to accept a proposal of union by eliminating o. Dorotheos (Dbar) from the holding of worship in the New Athos monastery.

Temur Dzidzaria recalled that “the main purpose of the establishment of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia was the re-establishment of the autocephalous Local Orthodox Church in Abkhazia.” In particular, he proposed to make a joint statement with the clergy of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Orthodox Church on unity in matters of independence of the Abkhaz Church; a joint appeal to the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church on the removal of bans from Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar); to hold a joint church service of the clergy of HMA and the AOC, thus, speaking categorically against the separate worship of representatives of HMA and the AOC in the same monastery.

A member of HMA Council, a deputy of the City Assembly of New Athos, Dionis Yalanchidi noted that representatives of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Orthodox Church do not have certain constructive proposals, in turn, the leadership and representatives of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia never made any offensive statements concerning representatives of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Orthodox Church. Dionis Yalanchidi also reminded that as a parishioner of the New Athos monastery and a deputy of the city assembly of New Athos, he expresses the collective opinion of parishioners and citizens about the inadmissibility of provocations against the public by supporters of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Orthodox Church.

Alkhas Tkhagushev said that in the dialogue with the society, the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia should not give false messages, but should use the available opportunities for a positive solution of the current problems.
Mark Trapsh said basing on experience of many years in communication with representatives of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Orthodox Church, there is only one conclusion: the only purpose of representatives of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Orthodox Church is exclusively the New Athos monastery.

“Our problems are exclusively an internal matter, and can be resolved exclusively without external factors,” said Germain Marchand. He stressed that the joint holding of worship is the only way to achieve mutual trust between HMA and AOC. It was offered to create a Joint Commission consisting of representatives of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia and the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Orthodox Church to find ways of overcoming the current situation.
The Chairman of the Council of HMA, Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar), summing up the discussion and in order to achieve peace and harmony among the Orthodox Christian congregation of Abkhazia, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, on the eve of the Great Lent, proposed the following resolution:

1. The Council of HMA proposes to make a joint statement with representatives of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Orthodox Church that both of church organizations on the territory of Abkhazia (HMA and AOC) have a shared goal, it is to restore the autocephalous Local Orthodox Church in Abkhazia.
2. The Council of HMA offers to create a Joint Commission consisting of representatives of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia and the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Abkhazian Orthodox Church to find ways of overcoming the current problems.
3. The clergy of the Council of HMA is ready to hold Church services with the clergy of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Orthodox Church including in the churches of the New Athos Monastery, however, he considers it is absolutely impossible to hold divine services separately on the territory of the New Athos monastery due to the unacceptability of such a form of realization of church life by the flock of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia.
4. In case of refusal of the clergy of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Orthodox Church in joint service with the clergy of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia due to the bans imposed on Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar) by the Russian Orthodox Church in 2011, and subsequently three times extended, the Council of HMA asks representatives of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Orthodox Church to appeal with a petition to the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church to remove bans from Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar).

This resolution was adopted unanimously. At the end of the meeting of the HMA Council in the New Athos Monastery, the HMA Council met with the authorized representatives of the Church Council of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Orthodox Church consisting of: Hieromonk Basilisk (Leiba), Priest Dalmat Gopia, Sergey Shamba and Daur Kogonia.
On behalf of the Council of HMA, Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar) presented the above resolution, adopted at a meeting of the HMA Council, to the authorized representatives of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Abkhazian Orthodox Church. Then there was an exchange of views and a lively discussion. The keynote of this discussion was the shared opinion of both sides that the existing problems in the church life of Abkhazia are exclusively an internal affair of Orthodox Christians of Abkhazia. Only the people of Abkhazia have the potential for a positive resolution of church problems.

On behalf of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Orthodox Church, Sergey Shamba, a member of the Church Council of the Abkhazian Orthodox Church, absolutely agreed with the idea of creating a Joint Commission and pledged to convey this proposal to the Chairman of the Church Council of the Sukhum-Pitsunda Diocese of the Orthodox Church, Priest Vissarion Apliaa.