Abkhazia is a very ethnically diverse region of Georgia, with Orthodox people of Georgian, Abkhaz, Greek, Russian and Ukrainian descent. With the support of the Moscow Patriarchate, some Abkhaz clergy have been agitating for an autocephalous (self-ruling) Church of Abkhazia and lobbying the Ecumenical Patriarchate for recognition. The Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Ilia II, used to be the resident Bishop of Abkhazia in his younger days, and today is still styled as Metropolitan of Abkhazia and Bichvinta, so he has strong feelings on the subject. So far, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholow has strongly opposed such measures and ruled that this is an internal affair of the Church of Georgia. The Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate have likewise been supportive of Georgia’s claims to date. It is likely that this position will be reiterated in Constantinople this month.
The delegation of Abkhazian legitimate government and the representatives of the Patriarch`s Administration will meet with the World Patriarch in Istanbul on September 17, 2012. The delegations plan to discuss and assess the attempts of the religious figures serving on the territory of the breakaway Abkhazia, who demand autocephaly to the Abkhazian Orthodox Church.
The IDPs from Abkhazia assembled in the Sokhumi University today and elaborated an address to the World Patriarch and the Patriarch of All Georgia, in which they are objecting to the separation of Abkhazian church from Georgian one.