Catholicosate of Cilicia
Antelias - Lebanon
The Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia
The spiritual heritage of the Armenian Church and the historical memory of the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia have shaped the mission of the Catholicosate, which today embraces various dimensions and spheres of the life of the Armenian people.
The Armenian Diaspora
Throughout its history, and especially in difficult times, the Catholicosate has been actively present in the religious, educational, cultural and social life of the Armenian people. After the 1915 Genocide, it contributed crucially to the formation and organization of the Armenian Diaspora.
The Theological Seminary has played a pivotal role in the witness of the Catholicosate. Many teachers, married priests, monks, bishops and catholicoi have graduated from the Seminary and have served the Armenian Church and nation in an exemplary spirit of Christian dedication and witness.
The Catholicosate has contributed significantly to the development of social services. It has not only encouraged social projects at the diocesan level, it has also initiated important social projects, mainly in Lebanon, Syria and Greece. It directly administered the Birds’ Nest Orphanage in Jbeil, the Sanatorium, the popular housing project and the Old Peoples’ Homes in Lebanon, Syria and Greece.
The Cathlicosate promotes Armenian spiritual and cultural values as witnessed by its recent construction of a Museum and by its well-stocked Library. Its publishing house, which produces numerous titles every year, has established many important bookfairs, conferences, seminars, cultural gatherings and concerts.
Since 1950’s ecumenism has been a major concern of the work of the Catholicosate. Its lay and clergy representatives participate actively in the meetings and conferences of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The ecumenical engagement of the Catholicosate was given a more organized form after 1962, when it became a member of this world family of churches. During the General Assembly in Nairobi, in 1975, Bishop Karekin Sarkissian (the late Catholicos of Etchmiadzin) was elected as a Vice-Moderator of the Central Committee (a position he held until 1983). At the 7th General Assembly in Canberra, in 1991, Archbishop Aram Keshishian (His Holiness Aram I), became the first Orthodox, the first Middle Easterner and the youngest person ever to be elected Moderator of the Central and Executive Committees. His Holiness was re-elected at the 8th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1998.
The Armenian Cause
Itself a victim of the Armenian Genocide, the Catholicosate was a key player in bringing the Armenian Cause to the attention of the world at large. It also worked to build its own people’s awareness of the Genocide.
The Middle Eastern Context
Having its headquarters in the Arab world, the Catholicosate has participated fully in the major events of this region. It has taken part in the struggle for independence of the Arab countries, mainly in Lebanon and Syria. It has strongly supported the Palestinian Cause and worked for a just, comprehensive and permanent solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Being a firm believer and defender of co-existence and dialogue, the Catholicosate has taken part in all efforts aimed at creating and strengthening a shared and harmonious common life among religions, societies, cultures and civilizations in the Middle East.