UPDATE: The Public Relations Department of the Patriarchate of Georgia released a statement at 16:17 on April 5 and denied false information about the Patriarch’s Sunday sermon.
On April 4, 2021, Facebook page “საქართველო" (Georgia) published a post about Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II’s Sunday sermon. According to the post, during his sermon Patriarch Ilia II spoke about the curfew and restrictions, noting that the curfew and other COVID-19-related restrictions are not reasonable, they do not help contain the virus and arouse suspicions that they simply aim at enslaving Georgian people. The post is accompanied by a screenshot from Imedi TV’s news program Kronika, depicting the Georgian Patriarch during a sermon. As of 2pm, April 5, the post has more than 5,000 shares.
Identical information was also spread by another Facebook page “ახალგაზრდული" (Youthful).
The Patriarch’s quotes are false. No such statement can be searched through open sources. It is noteworthy that it was not the Georgian Patriarch who held the Sunday sermon on April 4, the day when the post was published.
The video recording of the Sunday sermon held at the Holy Trinity Cathedral on April 4 was uploaded on the YouTube channel of the Patriarchate’s television Ertsulovneba. The video recording shows that the Sunday sermon was held by Patriarch’s locum tenens, Metropolitan Shio Mujiri of the Eparchy of Senaki and Chkhorotsku. He, however, said nothing about the curfew and restrictions. The Sunday sermon was also live streamed on the Patriarchate’s television.
No statement made by the Georgian Patriarch regarding the COVD-19 restrictions can be searched through open sources. The screengrab accompanying the posts has been taken from the sermon held on September 13, 2020. The Patriarch did not speak about the coronavirus-related restrictions and the curfew during the September 13 sermon either.
The Georgian Orthodox Church has yet to make an official statement regarding the false information.
by Davit Beradze
Myth Detector Lab
The article has been written in the framework of Facebook’s fact-checking program. You can read more about the restrictions that Facebook may impose based on this article via this link. You can find information about appealing or editing our assessment via this link.