To whom do they pray?
03/07/2012 12:53
Irakli Tskitishvili
Experts' club

In recent days self-proclaimed "diocese" in Abkhazia has been very close to the cherished dream – get rid of competitors from similarly self-proclaimed "metropolis" and lay hands on the most "lucrative” source of income. We are talking about an offensive of imposters led by Vissarion Apliaa on other impostors and dissenters led by Dorofei Dbar, who "barricaded" themselves in the New Athos Monastery, and are reaping benefits of attempts of tourism of Russia and the Abkhazian regime.

We should remind that according to decrees 065 and 066 of the Maikop and Adyge Diocese of June 11, 2012, the leaders of the "metropolis" Dorofei Dbar and Andrei Ampar (or as they are popularly called Andreika and Dorofeika) were prohibited from serving for the period of three years. This was renewal of the ban issued previously by the Maikop and Adyge Diocese for a period of one year. Presumably, the following penalty might be their defrocking.

The above persons are accused of unwillingness to repent in non-canonical acts and violation of church discipline, conduction of church service and administration of sacraments, despite the earlier imposed canonical ban.

"Just the violation of the canons, even without the presence of other breaches, tradition leads to your bringing to church court and your defrocking, since those who dare to conduct church services during his banning is recognized as "declaring upon itself the sentence"- the decree said. But hoping for their repentance and reform, the ban was extended for three years.

In response Dorofei Dbar ripped orders sent to him and said that from that moment he was breaking off all relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, a cleric of which he was and was going into the bosom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and promised to pray for Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople in his services.

Inspired by another ban against Dbar and Ampar, Vissarion Aplia immediately issued a “prayer statement” which states that "illegal dissenters Dorofei Dbar and Andrei Ampar have nothing to do with the Abkhazian Orthodox Church". Let's leave the term "Abkhazian Orthodox Church" for now, and start with dealing with/ discussing Apliaa’s statement.

Vissarion (Apliaa) said in the statement that Dbar and Ampar had no authority to move into the bosom of another church, "and if they want to pray for Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, they can do it at their discretion, but not in churches of the Abkhazian Orthodox Church. "

The statement also stressed that credit for the extension of the service ban instead of defrocking was to be given to the secular authorities. Who exactly spoke in favour of Dbar and Ampar is not known, but it was stressed that by tearing up the decrees of the ban signed by Bishop Tikhon, Dorofei Dbar symbolized a break with the Orthodox Church and his self-defrocking from the bosom of the Christian church as such. "

Vissarion Apliaa also addressed the Moscow Patriarch, whose clerics are Dorofei Dbar and Andrei Ampar, for clarification - on the basis of what canonical authority the banned hieromonks serve at the New Athos Monastery and pray for His Holiness Bartholomew of Constantinople. At the same time, Vissarion Apliaa demanded to immediately expel dissenters from the monastery and return the New Athos Monastery under his jurisdiction. For "legal assistance in solving the problem" Apliaa appealed to the puppet regime of Abkhazia result of which, logically, should he their expulsion.

Vissarion Apliaa also accused Dbar and Ampar of blasphemy and treason in connection with the history of "the Abkhazian Orthodox and all Orthodox tradition." The betrayal lies in the fact that Dorofei Dbar claims, contrary to the tradition, that John Chrysostom was not buried in Abkhazia, and rests in Turkey, in the town of Goumesissa, "which is located on the territory of Turkey within the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, namely, on the territory of metropolis of Metropolitan of Goumesissa, Axioupoli and Polykastro Dimitrios who under jurisdiction of his metropolis ordained Dorofei Dbar in the rank of Archimandrite that did not gave him a right to act in this rank outside the Goumesissa metropolis".

"We are not against Patriarch Bartholomew, but we have a closer spiritual union with Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill," – the statement said.

Here it should be noted that the New Athos Monastery is the most popular destination for Russian tourists annually visiting Abkhazia. Russian tourists leave a lot of money in this monastery, which was one of the reasons of confrontation between Dbar and Apliaa. When speaking about Dbar it should be emphasized that given the fact that the main income of the monastery, where Dbar fortified his positions, depends on Russian tourists, his break from the ROC really seems blasphemous. Moreover, Dorofei Dbar as a cleric banned from serving, has no right to perform any rites and administer sacraments, but Russian tourists are hardly told about this.

At the same time, Vissarion Apliaa with his self- proclaimed "the Abkhazian Orthodox Church", which is just as virtual and illegitimate a unit as Dbar‘s "metropolis", is not a dissenter unlike Dbar. Apliaa was ordained by the Georgian Orthodox Church, by Ilia II, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia and Metropolitan of Tskhum-Abkhazian diocese himself, and he is not banned from services and remains a cleric of the Georgian Orthodox Church, so sacraments administered by him within the jurisdiction given him by the GOC, are quite legitimate. Another thing is that actions of Apliaa include manifestations of separatism, but not when it concerns church service.

The confrontation between Apliaa and Dbar echoes in the Abkhazian society, which is divided in the same way as opinions are divided between the ecclesiastical impostors. Dbar has his supporters and Apliaa has his. In debates, they do not hide their confrontation. However, the most important thing is that neither the first nor the others understand the essence of Orthodox Christianity. They do not realize that it is impossible to build the Orthodox Church on the feelings of national separatism. Moreover, the vast majority of them have no faith at all as such, and the church is seen as means to achieve secular goals. Therefore, on the Internet one can read a lot of delusional statements of these "believers" involved in discussions on acquisition of "the Abkhazian autocephaly”.

Here are some examples, without naming the authors:

"people can get married in the quiet of one’s own home putting a ring on a finger, cementing their commitment to each other and showing their faith. We will live without the church, but the church has no future without us."

"God is in every man and every soul is a God. If you want to turn to God do it in your soul, and if your thoughts are pure, God will hear you and help you. It is not necessary to go to a special building with special people for this."

It became known that in the near future Abkhazia plans to adopt a law on religion, which will prescribe the major religions as Christianity (presumably, Orthodox Christianity), Islam and "Abkhazian religion" which is pure paganism. Lately there has been a lot of talk about this "religion." There appeared those who see salvation of the Abkhazian people in turning all Abkhazians to this "religion" and thus “stopping all talk about splits in the Abkhazian Orthodox Church".

"It is known that inter-religious relations are a struggle of worldviews. And affiliation of a part of the Abkhazian people to Islam, and the other part - to Christianity is a battle of worldviews within one people which a priori should not be there ... Return to ancient common Abkhazian religion will solve all these questions. One religion – one, united people "- write Abkhazian internet users.

Then there are those who are looking for connection between paganism and Christianity, and are trying to kill two birds at once. Here is one of the sayings of Abkhazian Internet user: "what today is called Abkhazian religion (or paganism) is strongly transformed the Old Testament teachings..."

All this shows what "mess" are in the heads of Abkhazian "congregation" that have not yet determined what Orthodox Christianity is and who they should join. None of them is searching for God, but each of them is looking for "independence." None of them knows where the truth is, and those who should help them are busy with redistribution of property and separatist movements. Today there is no Orthodox Christianity in Abkhazia, because there is no one to preach. Those who took this burden have no right to do this, they are not authorized to do this and, therefore, their actions are not from God. That’s why the result is chaos - not only in church affairs, but also in society. And the longer it continues, the further the Abkhazian society will drift away from God.

The only legitimate church on the occupied territory is the Georgian Orthodox church. The only legitimate bishop is Ilia II. Whether they like it or not, whether this corresponds to their mental development and understanding of the Orthodox canons, it does not matter. For this is how this is. And this will never be in any other way however hard Vissarion Apliaa prays to the Russian Orthodox Church, and Dbar – to the Bartholomew I.

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