Wednesday 17 November 2010
The Moscow Patriarchate hopes that the problem with canonical status of South Ossetian Orthodox community will be settled through the dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Georgian Orthodox Church taking into account “ardent wish” of the republic citizens to «have their own canonically recognized clergy.»
«It’s evident that social views, citizen position of this clergy should be inalienable from the choice made by South Ossetian people, inalienable from the processes that take place in South Ossetian society. I think today no one can deny the fact that only such clergy can be accepted by South Ossetian people», head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said at a round table held in the Orthodox Rus exhibition forum.
According to the priest, all Orthodox Christians should care for settling canonical status of clergy and church communities in South Ossetia.
«We hope that considerations of pastoral care, pastoral love to those who are in a difficult condition today will prevail and leaders of the Holy God’s Churches will find a way to settle the existing problem», Fr. Vsevolod stressed.
Most of the Ossetians became Christians in the 10th century under Byzantine influence. As the time went by, Digor in the west came under Kabard and Islamic influence. It was through the Kabardians (an East Circassian tribe) that Islam was introduced into the region in the 17th century.
Kudar in the southernmost region became part of what is now South Ossetia, and Iron, the northernmost group, came under Russian rule after 1767, which strengthened Orthodox Christianity considerably.
Today the majority of Ossetians, from both North and South Ossetia, follow Eastern Orthodoxy. Traces of paganism are still very widespread among Ossetians, with rich ritual traditions, sacrificing animals, holy shrines, non-Christian saints, etc.