Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Orthodoxy in Abkhazia and Ossetia

The United States has criticized restrictions on religious freedom in independent Abkhazia and Ossetia, formerly autonomous republics that were united to Georgia under Joseph Stalin and officially remained parts of Georgia until 1999 and 1991 respectively. In both countries independent Orthodox Churches have been established due to the phyletism of the Georgian Orthodox Church, which had established jurisdiction over both republics following the restoration of its autocephaly in the early 1900s.

In Abkhazia the Abkhazian Orthodox Church declared its separation from the Church of Georgia in 2009, reestablishing the Catholicosate of Pitsunda that had existed from the 1470s till its abolition by the Russian government in 1814 and had exercised jurisdiction over the western Georgians, Abkhaz, and Ossetians. As far as I'm aware the Abkhazian Orthodox Church remains without hierarchs as it is waiting for the Russian and Georgian Orthodox Churches to negotiate recognition of Local Orthodox Churches in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

In Ossetia the Ossetian Orthodox faithful were initially care for after South Ossetian independence by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia ( Russia :-) ), but later submitted to the the Holy Synod in Resistance as the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in the former USSR fractured into various synods. The Holy Synod in Resistance has organized the Ossetian Orthodox as a self-governing eparchy, the Diocese of Alania (the ancient name for Ossetia).

More on the US report can be found here. The official website of the the Ossetian Orthodox Church can be found here. Interfax's report on the Abkhazian Orthodox Church's appeal for an autocephalous Orthodox Church of Abkhazia can be found here.

Pictured is an Orthodox church in Ossetia.

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