Georgian-Russian War: Brothers at enmity?

Russia and Georgia, 2 nations which boast Orthodoxy as their main religion, have been engaged in a war for the past several days.  War is always tragic.  This war will demonstrate to what extent these two nations really can be considered “Orthodox” and what role Orthodoxy will play in the lives of those who fight and end the conflict.  One report said Russian planes had bombed and destroyed the home of a Georgian Orthodox bishop. 

According to the Ecumenical News International on 12 August 2008,

Georgia became Orthodox in the fourth century, more than 600 years before the baptism of Rus in the Dnieper river in Kiev in 988, which Russians mark as the creation of their church.

Russia annexed Georgia, which was seeking protection from Persia, in 1801, and abolished the Georgian Patriarchate. It was reinstated after the Bolshevik revolution in 1917. Relations between the Russian and Georgian churches in recent years have been amicable.

You can read the full article by Sophia Kiskovsky at Church groups back Russian, Georgian Orthodox peace appeals

Listed here are a few comments from the Patriarch of Moscow and of Georgia about the war:

“Today blood is being shed and people are perishing in South Ossetia, and my heart deeply grieves over it. Orthodox Christians are among those who have raised their hands against each other. Orthodox peoples called by the Lord to live in fraternity and love are in conflict,” Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II said in a statement on patriarchia.ru, his official Web site…. In his statement, Patriarch Alexei called for negotiations that would “respect the traditions, views and hopes of the Georgian and Ossetian peoples”, and said that the Russian Orthodox Church was ready to work with the Georgian Orthodox Church in a peace effort.

The Web site of the Georgian Orthodox Church, patriarchate.ge, reports that in a sermon on 10 August, Patriarch Ilia II called for prayers to end the conflict…. Georgian Patriarch Ilia said in his sermon, ”God is with us and the Virgin Mary is protecting us but one thing concerns us very deeply: that Orthodox Russians are bombing Orthodox Georgians,” He added, “Reinforce your prayer and God will save Georgia.” Ilia had earlier called on the Georgian and South Ossetian authorities, “to spare no effort to cease fire and solve disputes peacefully.”

Another story of the war from Interfax (Moscow) / 8 August 2008 can be found at http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=5065

If you want to donate money to help with relief efforts with the refugees of the war between Georgia and Russia, please visit  International Orthodox Christian Charities at  http://iocc.org/news/8-11-08georgia.aspx.   This is a case where many of the casualties and refugees are Orthodox Christians.  Both Georgia and Russia boast that Orthodoxy is the majority religion of their nations.