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    Georgian patriarchy refuses to recognize Abkhaz Orthodox Church

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    The Georgian patriarchy does not recognize the Abkhaz Orthodox Church as independent.

    TBILISI, September 16 (RIA Novosti) - The Georgian patriarchy does not recognize the Abkhaz Orthodox Church as independent, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

    The spokesman said the decision to separate from the Georgian Orthodox Church was taken by a "group of impostors."

    The deputy head of the Sukhumi-Abkhaz diocese, Vissarion Aplia, said on Tuesday the Abkhaz Orthodox Church was officially declaring its separation from the Georgian Orthodox Church.

    "We do not take seriously this statement," the Georgian patriarchy spokesman said. "It was made by a group of impostors...Not one of the 15 Orthodox churches, including the Russian Orthodox Church, recognizes the independence of the Abkhaz Church," he said.

    A spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate earlier said the Russian Orthodox Church had discussed with the Georgian Church the problem of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and that the Russian Church recognized the canonical territory of the Georgian Church, including the two republics.

    "The Russian Orthodox Church considers changes of political borders do not mean changes of church canonical borders," Archbishop Ilarion said.

    The Abkhaz Orthodox Church is officially part of the Georgian Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church, with Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II as its head. However, after Georgian-Abkhaz conflict in early 1990s, the Georgian Church lost control and jurisdiction over its property in Abkhazia.

    Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states shortly after the end of last August's war with Georgia over South Ossetia, which began when Georgian forces attacked the region in an attempt to bring it back under central control.


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