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No celebration events planned for Patriarch's birthday tomorrow
18:20 03-01-2018
No celebration events planned for Patriarch's birthday tomorrow January 4 is the birthday of Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II. The Patriarch turns 85 tomorrow.

As InterpressNews was told by the Patriarchate, no celebration of the Patriarch's birthday is planned. No traditional reception of people, during which parishioners, clergy and public activists used to wish happy birthday to the Patriarch, will be held in the Patriarchate.

Ilia II was born as Irakli Ghudushauri-Shiolashvili in Vladikavkaz, Russia's North Ossetia. He is a descendant of the influential eastern Georgian mountainous clan with family ties with the former royal dynasty of the Bagrationi.

In 1967, he was consecrated as the bishop of Tskhumi and Abkhazeti and elevated to the rank of metropolitan in 1969. After the death of the controversial Patriarch David V, he was elected the new Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia on December 25, 1977. He began a course of reforms, enabling the Georgian Orthodox Church, once suppressed by the Soviet ideology, to largely regain its former influence and prestige by the late 1980s. In 1988 there were 180 priests, 40 monks, and 15 nuns for the faithful, who were variously estimated as being from one to three million. There were 200 churches, one seminary, three convents, and four monasteries. During the last years of the Soviet Union, he was actively involved in Georgia's social life. He joined the people demonstrating in Tbilisi against the Soviet rule on April 9, 1989, and fruitlessly urged the protesters to withdraw to the nearby Kashueti Church to avoid bloodshed. This peaceful demonstration was dispersed by Soviet troops, leaving behind 22 dead and hundreds injured. During the civil war in Georgia in the 1990s, he called on the rival parties to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.

From 1978 to 1983, Ilia II was Co-President of the World Council of Churches (WCC), an ecumenical organization the Georgian Orthodox Church had joined with other Soviet churches in 1962. In May 1997, the Holy Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church announced its withdrawal from the WCC.

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