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Georgian Patriarchate Boycotts Rustavi 2 TV

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, May 28
The Patriarchate of Georgia’s Orthodox Church has urged the clerics to stay away from Georgia’s main opposition-inclined Rustavi 2 TV, after the anchor of Archevani TV Show, Giorgi Gabunia made new comments about the Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary.

The show, which was discussing a draft law enabling the court ban some creative works, featured a painting of a pregnant Mary with a toy pistol pointing to her head. Gabunia explained the painting is called Virgin Suicide, urging people not to worry because the pistol was a toy.

“Mary cannot commit a suicide, which means she will give birth to the Christ,so you do not have to worry,” the journalist said.

This is not the first time the Patriarchate is unsettled due to Gabunia’s comments about church and Christianity. In March 2018, he stated that Christ made a “huge mistake” when he went to Israel 2000 years ago, adding he should have come to Georgia’s Adjara.

“He would not have been crucified in Adjara, as there are no trees left,” he stated.

The patriarchate says the journalist’s comment is blasphemy, adding the clergymen and the Christian society have to boycott Rustavi 2 TV for “insulting religious feelings of the believers.”

“We urge our clergy to stop any relationships with Rustavi 2, not to give interviews and not to take part in its programs…Also, We call the parish not to get involved in the provocations because the desire of anti-Church forces is to create unrest in the country,” the Patriarchate stated.

The statement also slams Rustavi 2 for claims that the Georgian Church “serves Russia’s interests.”

“The church is the body of Christ and it cannot be a policy-related, pro-Russian or pro-Western. Rustavi 2 programs are so cynical that they cause public outcry and tensions in the country,” the patriarchate added.

The church called on the government to take effective and quick steps to create legal mechanisms to protect society and prevent possible uncontrolled processes in the country.

“We also call on the non-governmental sector, NGOs, and international organizations to show society that democracy does not mean offending peoples' religious feelings,” the patriarchate says.

Rustavi 2 Director General, Nika Gvaramia claims the TV show was not aimed at hurting anyone’s religious feelings, adding the statement of Patriarchate was not agreed with the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II and it was written by a group of clerics who carry out the interests of Russia and Georgia’s ruling party Georgian Dream (GD).

“This is not the first case when in the name of the Church such statements are dismantled. They are not agreed with the patriarch, and contradicts the pathos that this man [Ilia II] preaches,” Gvaramia stressed.

According to the Director General of Rustavi 2, the Patriarchate has only political function today, adding it carries out “destructive actions for the Georgian Church and the state.”

The Secretary of the Patriarch Michael Botkoveli says that Ilia II is well aware of the content of the statement, released by the patriarchate.

He added that Giorgi Gabunia “could not learn a lesson from his previous mistakes.”

“Gabunia still continues his unhealthy jokes, cynicism and insolence," added Botkoveli.