Orthodox Patriarch weighs in on Zurabishvili Controversy

Orthodox Patriarch weighs in on Zurabishvili Controversy

Orthodox Patriarch weighs in on Zurabishvili Controversy

The FINANCIAL -- Georgian Patriarch Ilia II calls on the Orthodox clergy to refrain from voicing political statements ahead of the upcoming presidential elections.

The statement follows a wave of criticism against Salome Zurabishvili, whose presidential candidacy has been endorsed by the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG).

“Unfortunately, with elections approaching, some clergy members are voicing statements containing political messages, including inappropriate references to certain political figures,” reads the statement signed by Ilia II, according to Civil.ge.

“We call on the priests and high ranking clerics to refrain from similar actions; we would also like to remind them that the Church had always been and will remain to be a politically neutral, unifying force,” the Patriarch wrote, urging the Orthodox clerics to avoid “casting a shadow over the Church and themselves.”

Church Leaders against Zurabishvili

The Patriarch’s statement was released after Salome Zurabishvili’s church-related remarks of September 18 drew wide condemnation among high ranking religious leaders. It also comes after church-led protests over the cannabis cultivation law and Zurabishvili’s controversial statements on the Russo-Georgian war.

Commenting the clergy members’ criticism of Zurabishvili’s war-related remarks, the presidential-hopeful said she was against the involvement of church leaders in political affairs.