The Pope in Georgia: Showing Respect Without Ecumenical CompromiseFrom Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 Pope Francis visited the ancient Orthodox nation of Georgia, celebrating Mass in a Tbilisi stadium on Saturday, Oct. 1 for the capital’s small Catholic population. Hierarchs of the Georgian Orthodox Church were noticeably absent.As it should be.The media is variously reporting the absence of any official Georgian Orthodox delegation as a “shun,” a “snub,” and that the Pope was met “with disregard.” That such headlines are false and inflammatory is obvious in that the pope visited the nation by the invitation of the president and His Holiness Patriarch-Catholicos Ilia II himself, who greeted him at the airport and met with him in an official capacity.Moreover, the pope was welcomed to the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta where he exchanged speeches with His Holiness in the presence of a number of hierarchs, clergy, monastics, and faithful. What we see is that, in fact, the pope was met with the same respect given to any visiting dignitary. The pope himself, upon his departure, expressed his gratitude at being so warmly received. But His Holiness Ilia II also respectfully maintained his own integrity and that of the Orthodox faith and Church, given to us by Christ through His Apostles

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