Your Excellency, Madam President,
Your Excellency, Mr. Speaker of the Parliament,
Dear Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen!
Your Holiness and Beatitude, I cordially congratulate you on being awarded this outstanding award!
Today we are especially reflecting on the great work you have done for decades in the field of science and education.
You say: “Science plays a crucial role in the development of any country. Can science and faith contradict each other when they belong to completely different areas of human creative thought? One is physical and the other is spiritual. They do not even oppose, but complement each other. Science is blessed by God; it is the attainment of a human intellect as an image of God.”
From the very first years of your enthronement, your special attention was concentrated on the relationship between the Church and the intelligentsia.
In the public consciousness of the Soviet period, the Church had an insignificant place, and had it not been for your farsighted goals and great efforts to bring the intellectual part of society closer to the Church, we would not have such high-level educational centers today.
You believed that the cultural and intellectual revival of Georgia should start with spirituality and the spirituality of science and intelligentsia would become a precondition for the renewal of our country.
Many people, leading their activities in different scientific fields, have continued their work in the field of theology and have been actively involved in research in its various fields and in the spiritual and educational processes, which is the result of your efforts.
When meeting with scientific circles and the representatives of intelligentsia, you always emphasized that “intelligentsia must help people to know the truth; but how can they cope with that if they themselves are cut off from the source of divine wisdom — the Church? ... Intelligentsia must become a part of the community, which, like a lighted candle, illuminates the path of the nation from darkness towards God.”
Over the years, you met practicing teachers as well as scientists in the field of pedagogy and psychology. You attach special importance to profound thinking and believe that the bright future of Georgia depends on the education and knowledge of the society.
You answer the idea, that puts knowledge and faith as contradictory phenomena, in the words of Maximus the Confessor: “Knowledge, fearless of God, gives birth to arrogance.”
As the result of your great merit, personal authority and exquisite diplomatic talent, Tbilisi Theological Academy was inaugurated in 1988. Following the abolition of autocephaly, it was the revival of the great educational tradition, which the Church of Georgia historically had in the form of various scientific centers. Mtskheta Theological Seminary also moved to Tbilisi together with the Academy.
In 1995, St. Gabriel the Bishop Theological Seminary was established in Kutaisi, and Gelati Theological Academy was restored. In the same year, Gelati Academy of Sciences was established in Kutaisi.
In 2005, you were elected as an Honorary Academician of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences. In the same year, the International Charitable Foundation of the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia – “Revival and Development of Spirituality, Science and Culture” - was established.
In 2008, St. Andrew the First-Called Georgian University of the Georgian Patriarchate was founded.
In 2009, St. Abuseridze of Tbeti University of the Georgian Patriarchate was established in Khulo, Adjara region. In the same year, Saint Queen Tamar Institute of Medicine was established, which in 2011 was transformed into a university. In the same year, the Vocational Education College of St. Ekvtime Man of God working under the supervision of the Patriarchate was founded.
In 2012, the Institute of Decorative Horticulture was transformed into the Decorative Horticulture College of the Patriarchate of Georgia. In the same year, the High School of Folk Song and Singing working at the Theological Academy and Seminary was transformed into Saint Giorgi the Athonite University of the Patriarchate of Georgia.
At present, as the result of your great efforts, we have:
Two theological academies;
Eight theological seminaries;
Six vocational education institutions;
Twenty-two general education schools;
Eight boarding houses;
Three parochial schools;
Thirteen educational research and youth centers.
Over the years, a number of theological works, journals, newspapers, theological, philosophical and historical studies or translations were published.
Your Holiness and Beatitude, the result of such selfless work is that the Georgian scientists, writers, representatives of the creative intelligentsia consider you the protector and great caretaker of the nation’s intellectual potential.
Grateful for all this, we pay homage to you.
May God bless your life for many more years to come!