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President congratulates Ilia II on the 36th anniversary of his enthronement as Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia

Your Holiness, 
 
I wholeheartedly congratulate You on the 36th anniversary of Your enthronement as Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia. I also congratulate every citizen of Georgia, because Your spiritual contribution belongs not only to Orthodox believers, but to generations of Georgian citizens. Over the decades, You have given guidance and  relief not only to Orthodox believers, but to followers of other faiths and even to non-religious people.
 
Your intense faith, dignity, gentleness and compassion have often reminded those of us confused by earthly passion, ambition, greed, jealousy or hostility of the central truths.
 
I remember my mother telling me, thirty-six years ago, that a young man had become the leader of our Church; it was the first time I learned that the Georgian Church had a Patriarch and that this man is You. Afterwards, thanks to the will of the Lord, I had the honor to meet You in person. For the past twenty-five years[since our first meeting], in the hardest and the most difficult moments of my life, our brief meetings have revived my faith. During these challenging years, I, like all Georgians, needed your guidance to maintain our faith, unity, love for one another and trust in the future. 
 
As Catholicos-Patriarch, you have served as a great leader of the Church and guided its tremendous revival. We are grateful for your wise and steady leadership.  
 
Your Holiness, we are blessed that You are still guiding the nation's spiritual life firmly. I wish You long life, health, energy, courage and forbearance in performing the great mission laid upon You.  I bow down before your merit.
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