Catholic Church in Georgia

The Catholic Church in Georgia, since the 11th-century East–West Schism, has been composed mainly of Latin-Rite Catholics; Catholic communities of the Armenian Rite have existed in the country since the 18th century.

A Georgian Byzantine Rite Catholic community, though small, has existed for a number of centuries but does not, however, constitute an autonomous ("sui iuris") Church. Canon 27 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches defines these Churches as under a hierarchy of their own and recognized as autonomous by the supreme authority of the Church. "No organized Georgian Greek Catholic Church ever existed", though, outside Georgia, "a small Georgian Byzantine Catholic parish has long existed in Istanbul. Currently it is without a priest. Twin male and female religious orders 'of the Immaculate Conception' were founded there in 1861, but have since died out." This was never established as a recognized particular church of any level (exarchate, ordinariate, etc.), within the communion of Catholic Churches, and accordingly has never appeared in the list of Eastern Catholic Churches published in the Annuario Pontificio.

History

Christianity in Georgia began in earnest with the evangelization by Saint Nino in the 4th century. Georgian Christianity then developed in the Byzantine Orthodox tradition, although contact with Rome did occur. The East–West Schism did not immediately end contacts between Georgia and Rome, although the break was recognized by the mid-13th century.

Around this time, Catholic missionaries became active in Georgia, setting up small Latin communities. A Latin-Rite bishopric was established in 1329 at Tbilisi, but this was allowed to lapse after the appointment of the fourteenth and last of its line of bishops in 1507, owing to a lack of support among Georgians.

In 1626, the Theatine and Capuchin orders established new missions in Georgia. In the following centuries a community of Latin Catholics began to form, members of this community commonly being referred to as "French", which was the dominant nationality of the missionaries. Both orders were expelled by the Russian government in 1845.

However, an agreement between Pope Pius IX and Tsar Nicholas I in 1848 permitted the establishment of the Latin-Rite diocese of Tiraspol. This was based in Russia, but all Transcaucasian Catholics, including the Georgians, were aggregated to it. The Russian part of that diocese is now called Saint Clement in Saratov.

Towards the end of the 19th century, some Georgian Catholics wished to use the Byzantine rite traditional in Georgia, but were thwarted by the outlawing of Byzantine "Uniate" groups. Accordingly, since the tsars forbade their Catholic subjects to use the Byzantine Rite, and the Holy See did not promote its use among the Georgians, some of them, clergy as well as laity, adopted the Armenian Rite. There existed at that time the Armenian Catholic diocese of Artvin, which had been set up in Russian Transcaucasia in 1850. It is now a merely titular see, listed as such in the Annuario Pontificio.

Outside the Russian Empire, in Constantinople, Peter Kharischirashvili (Pétre Kharistshirashvili) founded in 1861 two religious congregations of the Immaculate Conception, one for men, the other for women. These served Georgian Catholics living in the then capital of the Ottoman Empire. They also served in Montaubon, France. These congregations are long extinct, although some of their members were still alive in the late 1950s. The building that housed the male congregation, Fery-Quoa, still stands in Istanbul, now in private ownership. Their clergy gave Georgian Catholics in Constantinople the possibility to worship in accordance with the Georgian Byzantine rite, but they were under the authority of the local Latin Catholic bishop. The Georgian Catholic priest Michel Tamarati was the first to study the history of Catholicism in Georgia, eventually producing the oft-cited L'Eglise géorgienne des origines jusqu' à nos jours in French in 1911.[1]

Catholic cathedral in Tbilisi (President of Poland visit)
Inside the Catholic cathedral of Tbilisi

Only after the granting of religious freedom in Russia in 1905 did some Georgian Catholics resume the Byzantine rite, without reaching the stage of having a separate diocese (particular Church) established for them.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Georgian Catholics were some 50,000. About 40,000 of these were of Latin rite, the others mainly of Armenian rite. Canonically, they depended on the Latin diocese of Tiraspol, which had its headquarters at Saratov on the Volga.

In the brief period of Georgian independence between 1918 and 1921, some influential Georgians expressed an interest in union with the Church of Rome, and an envoy was sent from Rome in 1919 to examine the situation. As a result of the onset of civil war and Soviet occupation, this came to nothing.

In 1920 it was estimated that of 40,000 Catholics in Georgia, 32,000 were Latins and the remainder of the Armenian rite.[1]

Some sources state that, in the 1930s, an exarch was appointed for Byzantine-Rite Catholics in Georgia. This statement is not backed up by objective evidence, and it would have been indeed astounding if the Holy See had chosen that period, when the Soviet government was forcing all Byzantine-Rite Catholics in its power into union with the Russian Orthodox Church, to name for the first time a bishop for the extremely few such Catholics in Georgia, instead of appointing one for the Latin or Armenian Catholics in the country.

Organisation

St. Peter & Paul cathedral, Tbilisi (B)
St. Peter and Paul cathedral, Tbilisi

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, a Latin Rite apostolic administration (pre-diocesan jurisdiction) of the Caucasus was established on 30 December 1993, with headquarters in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, with a territory including Georgia, Armenia and until 2001 Azerbaidjan. It estimates the number of its faithful as 50,000, a number very similar to that given for Georgian Catholics of all rites in 1914.

Georgians of Armenian Rite are in the care of the Ordinariate for Armenian Catholics in Eastern Europe, which was established on 13 July 1991, covering a vast area including Russia and Ukraine, much vaster than Georgia, which has some 400,000 faithful in all (Annuario Pontificio 2012).

Kevin R. Yurkus [Crisis Magazine, July 2005] provides the following pertaining to the Georgian Byzantine Catholic Church:

Membership: 7,000

The Georgian Church began in 337 and used the West Syriac Rite of St. James. When the neighboring Armenians rejected the Council of Chalcedon, the Georgians accepted the conciliar decrees and adopted the Byzantine Rite.

Theatine and Capuchin missionaries worked for reunion in Georgia, but under Imperial Russia in 1845, Catholics were not allowed to use the Byzantine Rite. Many Catholics adopted the Armenian Rite until the institution of religious liberty in 1905, which allowed them to return to the Byzantine Rite. In 1937 the Georgian Catholic exarch, Shio Batmanishvili (or Batmalishviii), was executed by the Soviets.

At present, the Georgian Catholic Church has no organized hierarchy.

Membership

There are approximately 80,000 Catholics in Georgia – around 2% of the total population. They are mostly found either in Tbilisi or in the southern region of the country, where exclusively Catholic villages exist. There are three Catholic churches in Tbilisi; the Cathedral of Our Lady in the old town, the parish church of St Peter and St Paul, and Mar Shimon Bar Sabbae Assyrian Chaldean Catholic Church in Saburtalo. A Neocatechumenal Way Mission involving priests, families in mission and lay persons has been present in Sts Peter and Paul church since 1991, helping and leading the parish.

The Catholics in Tbilisi are mostly Georgians and Armenians, as well as a small Assyrian community of the Chaldean Rite.

This church also provides mass in English, catering for the growing Catholic expatriate population of Americans, Europeans, Indians and Maltese. There are only about 1000 practicing Catholics in Tbilisi. Many other Catholic churches were confiscated by the Georgian Orthodox Church after the fall of communism when the state gave all church property back to the Georgian Orthodox church. Recently, a new seminary has been completed on the outskirts of Tbilisi

A Catholic church is also present in Sukhumi, in Abkhazia. Other Catholic Churches are found in Vale, Gori and in Batumi.

See also

References

  1. ^ Rapp, Stephen H. (2010), "Georgian Christianity", p. 151, in The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity (Parry, K., ed.). Blackwell Publishing Ltd, ISBN 978-0-631-23423-4.

External links

Apostolic Administration of the Caucasus

The Apostolic Administration of the Caucasus (Latin: Administratio Apostolica Caucasi Latinorum) is an apostolic administration (pre-diocesan jurisdiction) of the Latin Church in the Catholic Church, established in 1993, with headquarters in Tbilisi, capital of Georgia.

It is exempt, i.e. directly subject to the Holy See, and to its Roman Congregation for the Oriental Churches, not part of any ecclesiastical province. Since 1996, Giuseppe Pasotto is the founding Apostolic Administrator of the Caucasus.

Christianity in Georgia (country)

Today 84% of the population in Georgia practices Orthodox Christianity, primarily the Georgian Orthodox Church. Of these, around 2% follow the Russian Orthodox Church, around 5.9% (almost all of whom are ethnic Armenians) follow the Armenian Apostolic Church and 0.8% are Catholics and are mainly found in the south of Georgia but with a small number in its capital, Tbilisi.

A Pew Center study about religion and education around the world in 2016, found that between the various Christian communities, Georgia ranks as the third highest nation in terms of Christians who obtain a university degree in institutions of higher education (57%).

Church of the Holy Spirit (Batumi)

The Church of the Holy Spirit (Georgian: სულიწმიდის კათოლიკური ეკლესია) is a Roman Catholic church in the Black Sea city of Batumi, Georgia’s autonomous republic of Adjara. It was constructed in the late 1990s by the Georgian architects Oleg Pataridze and Giorgi Baghoshvili and consecrated in 2000.The building replaced the earlier church which was confiscated by communists during the Soviet occupation but since 1989 serves as the Georgian Orthodox Cathedral of the Mother of God.

List of Catholic churches in the United States

This is a list of notable Catholic churches and cathedrals in the United States.

In the United States, there are more than 20,000 catholic church buildings. Among these numerous Catholic churches and cathedrals are notable. Notable ones include any that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places or on state and local historic registers.

There are 193 current Catholic cathedrals in the U.S., listed at List of the Catholic cathedrals of the United States. Another 74 basilicas—some are also cathedrals—are notable as well (See List of basilicas). The following list, by state, is intended to includes all these cathedrals plus other active churches and notable former cathedrals and churches.

These include:

(by state then city or town)

Monastery of the Holy Spirit

The Monastery of the Holy Spirit, officially named Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery is a Roman Catholic church located near Conyers, Georgia. It belongs to the world-wide Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (O.C.S.O.), more commonly known as Trappists.

As described in the Order's constitution, this Order is a monastic institute wholly ordered to contemplation. The monks dedicate themselves to the worship of God in a hidden life within the monastery under the Rule of Saint Benedict. They follow in the spirit of the founders of Cîteaux, as handed on in the tradition of the Order, within a community wholly oriented to a contemplative life of prayer. They lead a monastic way of life in solitude, silence, work and prayer.

Currently the Monastery of the Holy Spirit is a community of forty-eight monks spanning several generations, who live, work and pray at the Abbey. They were founded from the Abbey of Gethsemani, Trappist, Kentucky in the spring of 1944. The Monastery is sustained through The Abbey Store, a bonsai garden plant and supply business, a stained glass manufacturing business, donations, a green cemetery, and onsite retreats - among other endeavors.

The Monastery and grounds are a part of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area and also serves as the southernmost point on the Arabia Mountain PATH.

Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Istanbul

The Church of Our Lady of Lourdes (Turkish: Notre Dame de Lourdes Gürcü Katolik Kilisesi Georgian: სტამბოლის ქართველთა სავანე) is a historic Georgian-Catholic church in the district of Bomonti of the Istanbul district of Şişli in Turkey.The church is still in use today and one of the few Georgian Catholic churches in the world. It was built in 1861 with the cooperation of the Georgian Catholic priest Peter Kharischirashvili. As the number of Georgian Catholic Christians in Istanbul declines, a large part of the church community consists of members of the Armenian Catholic Church. Even in the 1950s, up to 10,000 Georgians lived in Istanbul who were not Orthodox but Catholic. After the pogrom of Istanbul in 1955 under Adnan Menderes, many Georgians emigrated. Today the Georgian-Catholic community consists of only 200 to 250 people.

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

The Archdiocese of Atlanta is an archdiocese of the Catholic Church in the U.S. state of Georgia. Its ecclesiastical territory comprises Georgia's northern counties, including the capital of Atlanta. It is led by a prelate archbishop, who is also pastor of the mother church, the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta. The Cathedral is the metropolitan see of the Catholic Ecclesiastical Province of Atlanta, which covers Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. As of 2014, there were 100 parishes and missions in the Archdiocese. There were 900,000 registered Catholics in the Archdiocese as of 2010.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Savannah

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Savannah is an ecclesiastical territory or diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the southern United States comprising 90 of the southern counties of the state of Georgia. It is led by a prelate bishop who serves as pastor of the mother church, Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in the city of Savannah.

San Miguel de Gualdape

San Miguel de Gualdape, founded in 1526 by Spanish explorer Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón, was the first European settlement in what became the continental United States. Established on the coast of Georgia, the colony lasted less than four months before it was overwhelmed by disease, hunger, and a hostile Indian population. Of the 600 persons who set out to establish the settlement, only about 150 returned home alive.The African slaves brought along by the settlers became the first documented instance of black slavery in North America and occasioned the first slave rebellion.

Sapelo Island

Sapelo Island is a state-protected barrier island located in McIntosh County, Georgia. The island is accessible only by aircraft or boat; the primary ferry comes from the Sapelo Island Visitors Center in McIntosh County, Georgia, a seven-mile (11 km), twenty-minute trip. It is the site of Hog Hammock, the last known Gullah community. It is illegal to visit the island without a permit issued by state tourism authorities.

Approximately 97 percent of the island is owned by the state of Georgia and is managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources; the remainder is under private ownership. The western perimeter of Sapelo is the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve (SINERR) which is part of NOAA's National Estuarine Research Reserve system (NERR). The University of Georgia Marine Institute, which is focused on research and education, is located on 1,500 acres (610 ha) on the south end of the island. The Reynolds Mansion, a Georgia State Park, also lies on the south end of the island. Visitors to the island must be a part of an organized tour or guests of residents on the island. The island also has a small private airport run by the state of Georgia.

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah () is the oldest city in the U.S. state of Georgia and is the county seat of Chatham County. Established in 1733 on the Savannah River, the city of Savannah became the British colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. A strategic port city in the American Revolution and during the American Civil War, Savannah is today an industrial center and an important Atlantic seaport. It is Georgia's fifth-largest city, with a 2017 estimated population of 146,444. The Savannah metropolitan area, Georgia's third-largest, had an estimated population of 389,494 in 2018.Each year Savannah attracts millions of visitors to its cobblestone streets, parks, and notable historic buildings: the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low (founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA), the Georgia Historical Society (the oldest continually operating historical society in the South), the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences (one of the South's first public museums), the First African Baptist Church (one of the oldest African-American Baptist congregations in the United States), Temple Mickve Israel (the third-oldest synagogue in America), and the Central of Georgia Railway roundhouse complex (the oldest standing antebellum rail facility in America).Savannah's downtown area, which includes the Savannah Historic District, the Savannah Victorian Historic District, and 22 parklike squares, is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States (designated by the U.S. government in 1966). Downtown Savannah largely retains the original town plan prescribed by founder James Oglethorpe (a design now known as the Oglethorpe Plan). Savannah was the host city for the sailing competitions during the 1996 Summer Olympics held in Atlanta.

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