On Sunday 19 June 2013, on Pentecost Day, during the Holy Liturgy, six sub deacons, from the graduating class of the seminary, were elevated to the rank of deacon. The sub deacons came to the altar on their knees to receive the rank.
After the liturgy, the new deacons, led by Archbishop Gorun Babyan the celebrant of the day and accompanied by the clergy and seminarians, met with His Holiness Aram I to receive his blessings.
On Saturday 115 May 2013, representatives of churches and communities from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar, Sharja, Kuwait and Bahrain met in Abu Dhabi. Rev. Mesrob Sarkissian, the Pontifical Delegate for Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, represented the Catholicosate of Cilicia.
On the eve of the meeting, the new General Secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches Dr. Michel Jalkh met with His Holiness Aram I to discuss his participation in the Abu Dhabi meeting. The Catholicos knows the region well, having been involved in the early discussions with the representatives of the communities and churches in the region. He made the following observations: “The initiative is important because it gives visibility to the Christian presence in the Gulf region;” the new Council should not function as an independent body but always remain accountable to the Middle East Council of Churches, which to this point has been the sole body to represent and speak on behalf of Christians in the region; given the religious and political sensitivities in the region, priorities of the new body should be carefully discussed and identified.
On 11 May a delegation representing the Catholicosate of Cilicia left for Artzakh to inaugurate the "New Cilicia" village, a recently renovated intermediary school and 32 houses for young families and widows of the war. The repopulation of the village is a joint project between the government of Artzakh and the Catholicosate of Cilicia.
The seven-person delegation included Archbishops Sebouh Sarkissian (Prelate of Iran), Moushegh Mardirossian (Western Prelacy, USA), Bishop Papken Charian (Prelate of Isphahan), Messrs. Ara Demirdjian and Vahé Yakoubian (Members of the National Council of the Catholicosate), Mr. Yervant Papakhanian (representing the Diocese of Tehran), and Mr. Khatchik Dedeyan (Chancellor of the Catholicosate). Upon its arrival the delegation met with the President of the Republic of Artzakh, Pago Sahakian. After receiving the good wishes and blessings of His Holiness Aram I, the president thanked the Catholicos and hoped that the cooperation to repopulate the "New Cilicia" village will continue".
The delegation then left for "New Cilicia," accompanied by the Prime Minister, Ara Haroutunian. At the village the mayor, the director of the school and the residents met the visitors. After inaugurating the school, the delegation presented a Letter of Blessings from Catholicos Aram I. In his letter the Catholicos wrote, "Karabagh regained its independence because of the sacrifice of our people. Sustaining this young Republic is a major responsibility and requires careful planning. The current projects of the Catholicosate of Cilicia reflect its commitment to strengthening Karabagh."
After the speeches of the prime minister, the mayor of "Cilicia Village" and the director of the school, the delegation announced the decision of the Catholicosate of Cilicia to continue its cooperation with the government by constructing a kindergarten, a health clinic, a social centre and a church.
FOR THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE VICTIMS MEETS
The Committee, jointly appointed by His Holiness Karekin II, Holy See of Etchmiadzin, and His Holiness Aram I, Holy See of Cilicia, met for the fifth time in Holy Etchmiadzin 7-8 May 2013.
The two Co-Chairs, Archbishop Yeznik Bedrossian (Holy See of Etchmiadzin) and Archbishop Sebouh Sarkissian (Holy See of Cilicia) presided over the meeting. Archbishop Yeznik opened the meeting with a prayer and then transmitted the greetings of the two Catholicoi.
According to the recommendations of Catholicoi Karekin II and Aram I, the members of the committee discussed the basis on which the victims of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 shall be raised to Sainthood.
On Thursday May 9th, Ascension day and the national victory day, the members of the Committee assisted celebrations in Yerevan.
OF THE TWO KIDNAPPED METROPOLITANS IN ALEPPO
Upon receiving the news of the kidnapping of the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, Paul Yazig,i and the Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan, Yohanna Ibrahim, His Holiness Aram I contacted the two patriarchates. Since then he has been monitoring the fate of the two Metropolitans through his regular consultations with the patriarchates and the Armenian Prelacy in Aleppo.
SAYS HIS HOLINESS ARAM I
On Wednesday 24 April 2013, after the Holy Liturgy and the Memorial Service in front of the Martyr’s Chapel, His Holiness Aram I addressed the thousands of people who had come to honour their martyrs.
The Catholicos said, “The memory of our one-and-a-half million martyrs of the 1915 Genocide, organized and implemented by Ottoman Turkey, calls us today to break our silence and demand that Turkey return all property belonging to our church, our nation and our people, including homes, lands, religious and cultural artefacts and other valuable objects, to their legal owners.” He then asked, “How can we remain silent in front of such a tragedy and injustice?”
The Catholicos then continued, “According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all international and regional covenants and instruments, and the Convention on Genocide, genocide is a crime against humanity, and its perpetrators must be punished. We have already seen the response of the international community to the Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda and Bosnia Herzegovina..”
Referring to the Armenian case, His Holiness said, “We should adopt a three-pronged approach: historical, political and legal. Historically, the Armenian Genocide need not be proven any more. However, we should continue to identify new documents that governments open to the public for study and documentation. Politically, our institutions, Armenian Cause committees and research institutions should continue their valuable advocacy work. We should now focus on our legal claims. The Catholicosate of Cilicia owns a large number of Churches: 12 in Adana, nine in Alexandretta, six in Ayntab, 10 in Fernouz, 26 in Gurun, eight in Hadjin, 23 in Malatya, 24 in Marash, 11 in Payas, seven in Sis, 43 in Yozgat and 14 in Zeytoun. The Catholicosate of Cilicia also owns 15 Monasteries, more than a hundred schools, cultural centres, farms, shops and agricultural lands. The current list does not include the properties owned by our people. Catholicos Aram I then asked: How could Turkey believe that it could gain access to the European Union in the face of such a blatant injustice? How could it defend democracy and people’s rights? How could it speak of interreligious and intercultural dialogue when it denies the Genocide and transforms churches into mosques?
Aram I added, “Our people, the government of Armenia, our religious institutions and our political organisations should combine their efforts to demand the legal rights of our people to their confiscated properties. This is our inalienable right and the legacy we inherited from our martyrs.” His Holiness then announced that the Catholicos of All Armenians, Holy See of Etchmiadzin, and the Catholicos of Cilicia, in a joint statement, have demanded the following::
1. That Turkey recognize the Armenian Genocide
2. That Turkey compensate Armenians for all their losses in human lives and human rights
3. That Turkey return the Armenian churches, monasteries, church properties and all spiritual and cultural monuments to their rightful and legal owners, the Armenian people.”
The Catholicos concluded, “The late Catholicos Sahak was forcefully removed from his See in Cilicia; our people were massacred, subjected to all forms of violent acts, deported from their homes and deprived of their churches, schools and family properties. Therefore, as the Catholicos of Cilicia, it is my moral responsibility to demand, through political and legal channels, that Turkey return our churches and church properties. Turkey is the successor of the continuing state of the Ottoman Empire that committed the Genocide against one-and-a-half million Armenians and appropriated our properties and possessions. Therefore, Turkey is responsible for the acts of the Ottomans.”
His Holiness Karekin II Catholicos of All Armenians, Holy See of Etchmiadzin
His Holiness Aram I Catholicos of Cilicia, Holy See of Cilicia
We demand that Turkey return our confiscated Churches and Church Properties
In 2015, Armenians living in the Republics of Armenia and Karabagh and in the diaspora will commemorate the 1915 Genocide of the Armenian people, planned and executed by Ottoman Turkey.
In 1915, more than one-and-a-half million Armenians were deported and massacred. The survivors found refuge in Eastern Armenia (the current Republic of Armenia), Syria, Lebanon, the Arab countries and all around the world.
Armenians living under the Ottoman Empire in Western Armenia, Cilicia and other regions of Turkey lost all their personal belongings along with churches, monasteries, holy places, religious and educational centres, cultural and religious artefacts of great value, cross-stones, manuscripts and holy pictures. In addition to deportation and genocide, Turkey appropriated all of these belongings and artefacts under the pretext that they were "abandoned properties."
Ninety-eight years after the Armenian Genocide, the current Turkish authorities, the legal successors of the Ottomans, not only deny the Genocide, but continue to hold on to the confiscated properties and artefacts, as well as church properties and religious treasures.
We therefore, demand the following:
1. That Turkey recognize the Armenian Genocide
2. That Turkey compensate Armenians for all their losses in human lives and human rights
3. That Turkey return the Armenian churches, monasteries, church properties and all spiritual and cultural monuments to their rightful and legal owners, the Armenian people.
As we pray for the memory of our victims of the Genocide, we condemn all violent acts against God-given human lives, all assaults on human dignity and all acts that disrupt peaceful co-existence, “for God [who] is a God not of disorder but of peace” (I Corinthians 14:33), invites people to love, to live together and cooperate in peace and harmony.
We are grateful to all those people and governments who have displayed their commitment to justice by empathizing with, assisting and sheltering the deported survivors of the Genocide.
The Armenian people will always remain grateful to all those governments, which, because of their commitment to justice, have condemned the inhuman acts of the Ottoman Turks and have formally recognized the Armenian Genocide.
On the threshold of the 100th Anniversary commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, we shall pursue together the rightful and legal demands for justice for the Armenian people.
Karekin II Aram I
Catholicos of All Armenians Catholicos of Cilicia
Etchmidadzin, Armenia Antelias, Lebanon
THEIR SOLIDARITY DURING THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE’
SAID ARAM I
On Sunday 22 April 2013, His Holiness Aram I organzed a special reception in honor of the President of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Switzerland Dr. Gottfried Locher at the Main Hall of the Catholicosate. Catholicos Aram I had invited Dr. Locher and Rev. Serge Fornerod the Chief Officer for Ecumenical and International relations from Switzerland, to express personally his deep appreciation for the solidarity of the Swiss people and churches during and after the Genocide. In the presence of the local guest that included the Armenian and Arabic speaking Evangelical communities, Armenian Government Ministers, Parliamentarians, members of the Executive Council of the Catholicosate, and representatives of civil society organizations.
In his speech the Catholicos said, “During the tragic moments of our history, you accompanied our people by raising funds and taking care of the orphans, widows and the blind in Cilicia, Syria, Greece and Lebanon. You provided scholarships to our youth so that they begin reorganizing their lives. Our strong ties through ecumenical dialogues, the Swiss-Armenian Foundation ARMENOFAS and advocacy will continue. We shall also continue working with our Armenian Evangelical Church through our common projects the Azounieh hospital and CAHL School for the Blind”. His Holiness continued, “Today we are on the eve of 24 April remembering the memory of our victims and 2013, the eve of the 100th Anniversary commemorations. We are grateful that the Protestant Churches in Switzerland did not remain indifferent to those inhuman acts. While thanking the Swiss Churches for their defense of Human Rights and the recognition of our Genocide, I ask the international community not only recognize our Genocide but also act upon our demands for reparation and compensation.” At the end of his speech, His Holiness Aram I decorated Dr. Gottfried Locher with the insigne “Order of Knights of Cilicia.”
In thanking His Holiness Aram I, Dr. Gottfried Locher said, “Your Holiness, through this decoration you have honored our Churches and our people. Our young generation remembers the Armenian Genocide through the stories told by their grand-parents about their great grand-parents how they collected funds, or, went to Turkey as volunteers to help the victims of the Armenian Genocide. We shall continue to stand by the Armenian people and their Cause.”
On Sunday morning Dr. Gottfried Locher and the members of the ARMENOFAS Board attended the Holy Litturgy at St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral in Antelias.
AT THE LONDON BOOK FAIR
During the recent Book Fair held at Earl Court in London from 15 to 17 April 2013, the two Publishing Houses exhibited their publications in Armenian and other languages on Church History, history of the Armenians and other documents related to the Armenian Genocide. Mr. Khatchik Dedeyan the Chancillor of the Catholicosate of Cilicia was at the stand and responded to the questions of the visitors.
Following his enthronization, Pope Francis wrote to His Holiness Aram I and thanked him for the delegation he sent at his enthronement ceremony. Here is the text of the letter of His Holiness.
To His Holiness Aram I
Catholicos of Cilicia of the Armenians
In these days following the solemn inauguration of my ministry as Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter, I write to express my heartfelt gratitude for your closeness and affection shown by the presence of the distinguished delegation which you sent to Rome for the occasion. I was deeply touched by this brotherly gesture, which was for me a source of spiritual comfort and encouragement.
As a brother in faith, I humbly ask you for the support of your prayers, that the Lord may guide and accompany me in my new mission. In listening to what the Spirit says to the churches, let us pledge ourselves anew to cultivate the hope of unity and to undertake all that is necessary to build peace and communion between us, not forgetting our common service to humanity, above all the poor, the weak and the suffering.
With these sentiments, I willingly embrace you in the grace and peace of Our Risen Saviour Jesus Christ.
From the Vatican, 7 April 2013
Upon the invitation of His Holiness Aram I the Board of the Swiss=Armenian Foundation met at the Catholicosate of Cilicia in Antelias.
The Fund was established by the Swiss Friends of the Armenians during the Genocide to assist the survivors. After several years the Foundation was reorganized and its ownership was transferred to the Catholicosate of Cilicia with a strong link to the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches (FEPS). The Board members of the Foundation include representatives of the Catholicosate of Cilicia and FEPS. The representatives of the Catholicosate include Mrs. Teny Pirri-Simonian President (Switzerland), Bishop Khoren Toghramajian (Greece) Mr. Dikran Jimbashian (Lebanon), Mrs. Hazgouhi Yaghjian (Greece), Mr. Alexan Keucheyan (Switzerland). Attorney François Payot and Rev. Ruedolf Renfer represent FEPS.
“THE TWO CATHOLICOI SERVED THE CATHOLICOSATE OF CILICIA WITH LOYALTY AND SELFLESS DEVOTION”
SAID HIS HOLINESS ARAM I
2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Zareh I and the 30th anniversary of Khoren I. A special event organized by His Holiness Aram I was held on Friday 12 February at the ‘Cilicia’ museum. In his opening speech His Holiness said, “This evening is an opportunity to pay our tribute to two Catholicoi who served our See of Holy Cilicia, which had been uprooted by Turkey, and who served our people, during the post Genocide recovery period and through the East-West tensions of the Cold War.
Mr. Alecco Bezikian spoke about Zareh I. He described him as a humble spiritual leader who believed in forgiveness. “Today, everyone praises the humility of the new Roman Catholic Pontiff Francis I; we had our own St. Francis in Zareh I 57 years ago,” he concluded.
Speaking of Khoren I, Parliamenterian Hagop Pakradouni said that the late Catholicos was a close friend of his family and hence he had known him since childhood. He described Khoren I as a spiritual leader with unique capabilities. Pakradouni then said, “The late Catholicos Khoren I strongly believed that our spiritual and cultural heritage in the diaspora should also be expressed through monuments.” He concluded, “Khoren I was the true Catholicos of All Armenians because everybody loved him.”
In his concluding remarks, His Holiness Aram I described the deceased Catholicoi as truly loyal servants to the See of Cilicia. He then said, “The two late Catholicoi had different personalities and leadership styles, but both rooted their mission to the Church in the Gospel values. They are models of spiritual leadership for the young generation.”
As a President of the MECC, His Holiness Aram I presided over and hosted the meeting. The meeting began with a business session, during which the church representatives discussed administrative and financial issues, the situation of Christians in Syria and Egypt, humanitarian assistance to refugees and the urgency for Christian-Muslim dialogue.
During the second part of the meeting, the members received the report of the General Secretary and reports from programme staff. At the end of the session, the Executive Committee accepted the resignation of the General Secretary Father Paul Rouhana, who had recently been ordained as Bishop and appointed Dr. Michel Jalkh as interim General Secretary.
At the end of the meeting, the Executive Committee published a statement in which they thanked His Holiness for his hospitality and leadership, and then called upon Christians in the Middle East to remain in their respective countries, claim their rights and strengthen Christian-Muslim coexistence.
The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be held in December 2013, either in Egypt or Antelias.
THE INAUGURAL CEREMONY OF THE PRESIDENT OF ARMENIA
Archbishop Sebouh Sarkissian, Prelate of the Armenian Diocese of Tehran, and Rev. Papken Charian, Prelate of the Armenian Diocese of Isphahan, attended the ceremony on behalf of His Holiness Aram I.
SAID HIS HOLINESS ARAM I
On 6 April 2013, His Holiness Aram I opened the consultation organized by the Lebanon Committee of the 100th Anniversary Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, held at the ‘Cilicia’ Museum in Antelias. After welcoming the members of the committee and expressing his appreciation for the one-day consultation, he said, “Preparations for the 100th anniversary of our Genocide should be the beginning of a long-term programme to bring together all the planned activities of Armenia and the diaspora coherently.” The Catholicos then reminded the members of the committee of the motto he proposed to the 100th anniversary preparatory committee in Armenia: “ ‘To remember, to remind and to demand’ “During the past 100 years,” he continued, “we have constantly reminded the world of our Genocide. Today we demand justice and compensation.”
He then spoke of the consultation the Catholicosate organized a year ago on the theme, “From Recognition to Compensation,” at which international human rights jurists and lawyers attended. He said, “We need Armenian jurists and lawyers who will take our case to Human Rights Courts of Justice and demand our rights for ownership of the lost lands and properties.” He added that this was a cause for all Armenians, who should work together, Armenia as a state and the diaspora as diaspora. He added that Armenians in all regions should work for the recognition of the Genocide and use appropriate strategies. His Holiness concluded, “The Genocide is not a historical event that belongs to the past. It is our present, our Diaspora and our uprooted Catholicosate of Cilicia. The Catholicosate of Cilicia will continue to demand justice and compensation for our Cause.”
OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE (1915-2015)
His Holiness Aram I announced the implementation of three projects as part of the preparation of the 100th Anniversary Commemorations of the Armenian Genocide. The architects of the Catholicosate are invited to complete the tasks.
His Holiness Aram I is inviting Armenian benefactors to contribute to the project.
Dear fellow Armenians,
Human resources is the indicator of a nation's or community's inner power and creative mind and a guarantor of its bright future. The Armenian Diaspora is rich with human resources. It is vitally important that we get a clear, accurate and comprehensive information about our human resources in the Diaspora. Indeed, "Information is power; and the power of knowledge and information becomes a source of deeper self-understanding and self-affirmation" according to His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia.
The Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia has initiated a program aimed at gathering information about our human resources in the Diaspora. By human resources we basically mean: community leaders, clergy, economists, people of media, writers, politicians, artists, public figures, medical doctors, teachers, university lecturers, businessmen, and generally specialists in the area of science and technology, etc. This initiative has the full support of His Holiness.
Thus, we kindly ask you to fill in the Form and submit it to the Catholicosate, Antelias, Lebanon. We also ask you to forward this e-mail (with the link http://www.armeniancatholicosate.org) to your friends.
ARMENIAN CATHOLICOSATE OF CILICIA