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Patriarch Urges Clergy Not to Make Political Statements

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, September 21
Georgian Patriarch Ilia II has urged the clergy to refrain from making statements of political content.

The Patriarch's address has been posted on the official page of the Georgian Patriarchate, in the wake of tens of clergymen’s harsh criticism of the Georgian Dream ruling party-supported presidential candidate Salome Zourabishvili.

Part of the clergymen appealed to voters not to vote for Zourabichvili, as the latter “said that the Russia-Georgia war was started by Georgia in 2008.”

Zourabichvili said a couple of days ago that Russia was the initiator of any conflicts in Georgia. However, she added that former President Mikheil Saakashvili must not have been provoked by Russians in 2008.

Zourabichvili stated that spirituals “too much involved” in politics, which was not legal and right.

"Sadly, some clergymen make statements of political content ahead of the elections and improperly mention some politicians. We call on the clergy to refrain from acting so. We also remind them that the church has always been and will be politically neutral," reads the address by the Patriarch.

The church and the Patriarchate should be neutral and separated from the electoral processes, - Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze said, responding to the statement of Ilia II.

“The church should be separated from the electoral processes and this was the pathos of this statement. I want to thank the Patriarch again for this statement. This is the principle that should become the guideline for each of us. There were several small declinations from this principle, but this does not change the spirit of the Patriarch and the Patriarchate.

“We've heard a few statements, made by the clergy related to the elections. The Patriarch had the reaction to this. We act in accordance with the interests that are common for us. The public interests of the church and the public interests of the government are common ", Kobakhidze said.

Forty-six candidates have appealed the Georgian Central Election Commission for registration as presidential candidates.

CEC stated on Thursday that 20 out of 46 have not been registered due to the absence of a valid list of supporters, while the case of two other candidates was being discussed.

A presidential candidate must have signatures of more than 25,000 supporters to be registered for the elections.