Last Sunday the huge Sameba church in Tbilisi was filled to the last corner. The Patriarch was speaking. His old and soft voice somehow filled the whole church. Multivoiced songs gave him short breaks. Young and old were there, everybody listened silently. Some to understand, some just out of respect. The Christian Orthodox Church in Georgia plays a very important role, in politics and in every day life of people.
Before the Patriarch left, a long red carpet was rolled out. On both sides people gathered to see him. Soldiers formed rows to keep his way free. Then he came: an old and bended man, slowly walking down the aisle, softly taking steps on the red carpet until he reached his car in front of the church.
The Patriarch is the one people trust and follow in politics these days, maybe the only one. He seems to be the real leader in Georgia these days.
p.s. I was struck meeting soldiers in Church. You wonder about separation of Church and State. But maybe he is protected as a civilian would be when threatened. Strange enough: it was not police, but soldiers protecting him.