Sunday, October 14, 2012

Georgian Orthodox Church's Role In Parliamentary Elections Seen As Important

In an article posted yesterday, the New York Times reported on the role of the Georgian Orthodox Church in  last week's Parliamentary elections in the nation of Georgia. The election replaced President Mikheil Saakashvili's government with one formed by Bidzina Ivanishvili.  The Church has had a number of disagreements with the Saakashvili government, especially over legislation granting other religions equal status with the Orthodox Church in Georgia. Saakashvili was associated by Church conservatives with lax Western values.  Patriarch Ilia II insisted that the Church maintain neutrality in the election, but that signaled it was not endorsing the government.  One scholar described it as "a very active and anti-governmental neutrality."  As the election approached, Patriarch Ilia arranged for an airplane carrying icons and holy relics to circle over the country while priests prayed for its future.