Your Excellency, Madam President,
Your Excellency, Speaker of Parliament,
Your Eminence, Tenense of the Patriarchal Throne Shio,
Your Eminence, Theodore, Vicar of the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Metropolitan of Akhaltsikhe and Tao-Klarjeti,
Your Eminence, Nikoloz, Metropolitan of Akhalkalaki, Kumurdo and Kari, Your Eminence, Archbishop of Bodbe, Iakob;
Honorable Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps, Ambassador of the Holy See of the Vatican to Georgia, Your Excellency Monsignor Jose Betancourt,
We greet you, President of the Academy of Sciences, Mr. Giorgi Kvesitadze
Vice President of the Academy of Sciences, Mr. Roin Metreveli,
Honorable Rectors of Higher Educational Institutions,
Honorable Members of the Scientific Council of Tbilisi Theological Academy and Seminary, professors, Ladies and Gentlemen.
You all know the reason why we have gathered here today. The Scientific Council of Tbilisi Theological Academy and Seminary of the Orthodox Church of Georgia has decided to award His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II, the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, with the title of Honorary Doctor, for his special merit. Tbilisi Theological Academy and Seminary, its Scientific Council, professors, students - we all observe the historical reality, the historical truth. This is a reality of epochal importance, the contribution of epochal importance made by the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia to our country and to her Apostolic Church.
His contribution is very versatile and multifaceted. The scope of his work has covered almost all areas: education (primarily), Church architecture, Church singing, publishing work; The Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia founded the Television and Radio of the Patriarchate. From the very day of his enthronement, the Patriarch of Georgia set a goal for himself to obtain a verification of the recognition for the Georgian Orthodox Church, which would be an attestation that the Church of Georgia had been an ancient autocephalous Church.
The Patriarch of Georgia established Gelati Academy of Sciences. It was an event of great significance. President Shevardnadze and the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia signed the document testifying its foundation. The Patriarch of Georgia founded Tbilisi Theological Academy as a higher theological school.
From the day of his enthronement, with the objective of the universal recognition of autocephaly, our Patriarch thought about founding a higher theological school, because without a higher theological school it would be impossible to revive and develop Georgian theological thought and the revival and development of theological science.
As you all know, there was a big break since the Academies in Gelati, Ikalto, and Gramy functioned in Georgia. During that break, no higher theological school worked in Georgia.
The Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia founded a secular university - Georgian university of Andrew the First-Called - with the assignment to develop fundamental sciences. It operates under the auspices of the Patriarchate.
It was very difficult for the members of the Scientific Council to develop a text that would accurately reflect this multifaceted, large-scale and immeasurable work of the Patriarch, and it is a great honor for the Theological Academy today to award the title of Honorary Doctor to him.
We could have done it earlier, but for some reason, by God’s will it happened that when the Theological Academy achieved some success (this success was attained with the highest authority of the Patriarch), which is the establishment of the Dissertation Council in Orthodoxy at Tbilisi Theological Academy.
This is an unprecedented case, never in the history of Georgia, throughout all of its course, there has been a Dissertation Council in Orthodox Theology in the Church of Georgia, and anyone who sought to earn a degree in Orthodox Theology and defend a dissertation they had to seek it abroad.
This was an unprecedented case, which was carried out with the great authority of the Patriarch and the work and efforts of the members and professors of Tbilisi Theological Academy and Seminary. The doctoral programme was established at this school, the Erasmus + programme was approved for the academy, which, of course, is a great achievement.
With the blessing of our Patriarch, the Academy has a scientific cooperation agreement with various higher educational institutions around the world.
We are well aware that the awarding of this title will add little to the authority and meritoriousness of our Patriarch. The Patriarch is an Honorary Academician of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences, he was awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of State University (this took place when the Rector of the University was Mr. Roin Metreveli). Our Patriarch is an honorary doctor of St. Tikhon Theological Academy in the United States and a doctor of numerous higher educational institutions in other countries. Yes, the awarding of the title of Honorary Doctor may not add much to his merit, but above all, it is on our part, on the part of the Theological Academy, the expression of our deepest gratitude to the Patriarch and our deepest deference before him for his unfathomable devotion to our country and our Church.
Our Patriarch himself founded the theological high school and, because of the importance of this school, he himself was the Rector of Tbilisi Theological Academy for several years.
Let me introduce the text that we have developed in the Scientific Council of our Theological Academy and Seminary:
By the decision of the Scientific Council of Tbilisi Theological Academy and Seminary of the Autocephalous Apostolic Orthodox Church of Georgia
His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Archbishop of Mtskheta and Tbilisi, Metropolitan of Bichvinta and Tskhum-Abkhazeti
Is awarded the title
DOCTOR HONORIS CAUSA
For his outstanding contribution to the worldwide recognition of the Autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Georgia, revival of the Church, development of theological education and sciences, establishment of the higher theological school – Tbilisi Theological Academy, spiritual strengthening and unification of the Georgian nation.
Protopresbyter Giorgi Zviadadze, PhD in Theology and Philology,
Rector of Tbilisi Theological Academy and Seminary
This is the diploma, which, with great reverence and gratitude, with the understanding and respect of the greatest contribution associated with the name of the Patriarch, we present to His Holiness.
This is a scroll made in the Georgian and the English languages, which I will hand over to the Patriarch of Georgia with deep deference.