Orthodox Leaders on Georgia Conflict

Under the predictable headline “South Ossetian bishop calls on people to rebuff Georgian aggression”, the Moscow based Interfax Religion presents the rallying cry of Bishop George, head of the Alania diocese in South Ossetia:

“We have once again experienced ‘care’ of Georgia – never-ending humiliation, insults, slander, terrorist acts and gunfire at civilians. Georgia has shown such ‘love and care’ for our people for the past 18 years”…

The report adds:

The bishop urged South Ossetians “to give full backing to those who protect their homes, children, wives, parents and friends and to serve the people and the fatherland with any possible talents and capabilities.”

Meanwhile, in Moscow, an Alanian/Ossetian cleric is calling on a saint to intervene:

“The [Alanian] representation’s rector hegumen Georgy (Bestayev) prayed all night through and in the morning he set off to the Holy Trinity- St. Sergius Laura to pray before the relics of St. Sergius of Radonezh about peace and stability in South Ossetia,” churchwarden Oleg Khubetsov told an Interfax-Religion correspondent on Friday. He noted that Ossetian community of Moscow “together with all law-abiding Russian citizens is outraged with bold aggression initiated by “the little Hitler” against people of South Ossetia.”

One might think that when you’re defending the right of a large country to invade a smaller neighbour on the grounds of solidarity with an ethnic enclave across the border you might be better off avoiding Hitler analogies…

However, to be fair, Interfax also gives us the take of Georgia Catholicos Illia II:

…Georgian authorities stand for peaceful settlement of the conflict and are ready to carry out the policy of peace. I hope the Ossetian party will not exacerbate the situation. Centuries-old friendship and family relations bond Georgian and Ossetian people and what is most important we united with Christian faith and must live peacefully without blood.

Moscow Patriarch Alexei II has also called for a cease-fire, pointing out that “Orthodox peoples called by the Lord to live in fraternity and love confront each other.”

Bishop George, by the way, is a member of a traditionalist Orthodox church called the “Orthodox Church of Greece Holy Synod in Resistance”.

With interesting timing, the Tbilisi Messanger reports that just a few days ago Patriarch of Alexandria Theodore II arrived in Georgia with “the remains of Saint Matthew the Mediator which were exhibited at Sameba church in Tbilisi and Svetitskhoveli in Mtskheta.”