GLOBAL APPEAL BY HIS HOLINESS ARAM I, CATHOLICOS OF THE ARMENIAN CHURCH, HOLY SEE OF CILICIA ON THE BLOCKADE OF “LACHIN CORRIDOR”
Armenian Church, Holy See of Cilicia condemns, in the strongest possible terms, Azerbaijan’s blockade of the only road connecting Artsakh to Armenia—the Lachin Corridor. The Lachin Corridor is a patent lifeline for the Armenians of Artsakh, secured by the Trilateral Statement of 10 November 2020, to provide them unfettered access to and from Armenia. In violation of its international commitments, Azerbaijan has blockaded the road and severed Artsakh from Mother Armenia. A grave humanitarian crisis of historic proportion is materializing. The 120,000 residents of Artsakh remain completely trapped for a third day. They are deprived of food supplies, medication, and other essentials from the outside world. Another 1,100 Artsakh Armenians remain stranded on the blocked road, unable to return to their homes and families—among them, the elderly and 270 children. Alarmingly still, Azerbaijan has cut the gas supply from Armenia to Artsakh, leaving this isolated population with diminishing supplies, struggling to survive—without heat—in subzero winter conditions. Hospitals, schools, and social services are unable to properly operate; the outlook grows ominously grim. A dire humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding, specifically engineered to eliminate the Armenian population of Artsakh.
We are witnessing deliberate and concrete steps toward the ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Armenian population of Artsakh. It is a policy that Azerbaijan has pursued relentlessly since the beginning of the conflict, as evidenced by Azerbaijan’s pogroms and massacres of Armenians in Baku, Sumgait, Kirovabad and other cities. Shockingly, it is reminiscent of the infamous “Operation Ring”, in the spring of 1991, when Azerbaijan attempted to encircle, then strangle, the Armenian population of Artsakh to exterminate them. The imminent threat of genocide looms weightily again on the now isolated and encircled Armenian population. The need for immediate humanitarian action is critical. It is mandated legally and morally as well.
As such, I must call upon world governments, specialized organizations, spiritual leaders, political figures, human rights activists and our Armenia Diaspora to take immediate stock of the quickly deteriorating situation in Artsakh and to not remain indifferent to the fate of the Armenian people, once again on the brink of genocide. I call upon you to act decisively, to urge your governments to condemn Azerbaijan’s actions, to demand that sanctions be imposed against Azerbaijan, and to take all rightful action with conviction and resolve to save the people of Artsakh from imminent extermination.
December 16, 2022
HOLY SEE GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONCLUDES WITH CATHOLICOS CALLING ON MORE ACTIVE ROLE FOR PRELACIES
His Holiness Catholicos Aram I urged Prelacies to become more actively involved in the Catholicosate’s mission as the General Assembly ended on Friday, Dec. 9, after three days of busy sessions and panels that discussed key issues for the development of the Church, Armenia, and the Diaspora.
“The Catholicosate are our Prelacies and people,” the Catholicos said. “Our work must get to the people by way of the Prelacies and it has to conform to the local conditions.”
In this sense, he called for examining the manner to involve the Prelacies more actively in the collective mission. “We have to think how to achieve that,” he said.
The second day of the Assembly, Dec. 8, was devoted to analyzing urgent topics concerning the transformation of the Diaspora, including family, Armenian nation-building, youth, development of Armenia and Artsakh, which were discussed by panels, followed by Q&A sessions. The proposals made during the meeting will serve as the basis for the Catholicos’ proclamation of 2023 as the Year of the Reorganization of the Diaspora as well as for the four-year planning by the newly elected Central Executive Council.
The topics discussed by the panels on Thursday included “The Armenian Family, the Key to Armenian Existence,” by Armine Sayitkhanian, from the Tehran Prelacy, and Berge Apkarian, from the Western US Prelacy; “Armenian-Making, the Guarantee of Armenian Identity,” by Hampig Karayan, from the Canadian Prelacy, and Viken Avakian, from the Lebanon Prelacy; “Youth: the Blood of Armenian Life,” by Galy Avakian, of the Armenian Church University Students’ Association, and Jacques Ketchejian, of the Zavarian Student Association, and “The Diaspora, Participant in the Strengthening of Armenia and Artsakh,” by Hagop Pakradouni, from the Lebanese Parliament and delegate of the Lebanon Prelacy) and Noel Minasian, from the Tehran Prelacy. On Friday, Seta Khedeshian and Shahan Kandaharian, both from the Lebanon Prelacy, spoke about “The Need to Reorganize the Diaspora.”
In closing remarks, His Holiness said that we may have differences, but he added that it would be unforgivable to succumb to internal discord and polarization in the face of national concerns and perils in Armenia, Artsakh, and the Diaspora. Any meeting, he said, acquires its true outlook when the ideas and decisions voiced during it materialize into actions.
The following is the list of the newly elected members of the Religious and Lay councils of the Central Executive Council.
- Archbishop Gomidas Ohanian
- Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan
- Archbishop Sebouh Sarkissian
- Archbishop Kegham Khacherian
- Archbishop Nareg Alyemezian
- Archbishop Khoren Doghramajian
- Archbishop Shahan Sarkissian
- Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian
- Archbishop Papken Tcharian
- Archbishop Shahe Panossian
- Archbishop Krikor Chiftjian
- Bishop Magar Ashkarian
- Bishop Mesrob Sarkissian
- Bishop Torkom Donoyan
- Very Rev. Fr. Stepanos Pashayan
- Rev. Fr. Baruyr Shernezian
- Rev. Fr. Hovagim Panjarjian
- Stepan Der Bedrossian (Lebanon)
- Mgrdich Mgrdichian (Lebanon)
- Nora Bayrakdarian (Lebanon)
- Shahan Kandaharian (Lebanon)
- Hagop Havatian (Lebanon)
- Dikran Jinbashian (Lebanon)
- Alek Mouradian (Lebanon)
- Arthur Nazarian (Lebanon)
- Seta Khedeshian (Lebanon)
- Krikor Mahseredjian (UAE)
- Rostom Aintablian (Western Prelacy)
- Hovsep Avedian (Iran)
- Gaydzag Zeitlian (Western Prelacy)
- Drtad Mangigian (Eastern Prelacy)
- Hratch Hagopian (Syria)
- Jirayr Basmadjian (Canada)
- Armen Derian (Greece)
December 7 -9, 2022
CATHOLICOSATE GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONVENES IN LEBANON
The General Assembly of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia convened on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the monastery of Antelias, Lebanon. His Holiness Catholicos Aram I presides the meeting, which runs through Friday, Dec. 9.
The assembly is held every four years. Prelates and about 125 delegates from the different Prelacies under the jurisdiction of the Catholicosate are participating.
His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan, Prelate, and the following delegates of the Eastern Prelacy are participating in the General Assembly: Hovsep Avakian; Ara Barsoumian; Dr. Carlo Bayrakdarian; Veh Bezdikian; Michael Gostanian; Aram Hovagimian; Tamar Kanarian; Hagop Khatchadourian; Armen Morian, Esq.; Richard Sarajian, Esq., and Zarmair Setrakian.
The Catholicos welcomed the participants and proposed the delegates elect the provisional Tivan from among the youngest and oldest participants. Afterwards, the election for the permanent Tivan was held. Vatche Najarian, from the Lebanon Prelacy, and Ara Shavertian, from the Tehran Prelacy, were elected co-chairs of the Assembly. Houri Azezian, from the Aleppo Prelacy, and Elizabeth Boyajian, from the Western Prelacy of the United States, were elected recording secretaries.
Following the election of subcommittees, His Holiness addressed the participants. He said that the last five years have been turbulent, with major crises including the Artsakh war of Sept. 2020, the blast at the port of Beirut in August that year and the acute social and economic crisis in Lebanon. Yet the Great House of Cilicia continued its mission with indefatigable resolve.
The priorities for the future work must include: renewal of the Armenian Church; training of clergy and staff; reaffirmation of moral and spiritual values; reorganization of the Diaspora; support for the Lebanon and Syria communities, and an active role in the development of Armenia and Artsakh.
In the sessions that ensued, the Religious and Lay Councils of the Central Executive Council of the Catholicosate presented their reports. His Holiness and the Religious and Lay Councils offered insights and clarifications in response to questions from the delegates.
September 19, 2022
THE ARMENIAN CHURCH, HOLY SEE OF CILICIA PARTICIPATED AT THE WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES 11TH ASSEMBLY
The World Council of Churches held its 11th General Assembly from August 31st to September 8th 2022, in the German city of Karlsruhe with the theme “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity.” The Armenian Church, Holy See of Cilicia participated with a delegation consisting of twelve members—six clergy: Archbishops Gomidas Ohanian, Sebouh Sarkissian, Kegham Khatcherian, Nareg Alemezian, Bishop Masis Zobouyan and V. Rev. Fr. Hrant Tahanian, and six laypersons: Prof. Teny Pirri-Simonian, Ms. Seta Khedeshian, Dr. Nora Bayrakdarian-Kabakian, Esq. Vanna Gidtsinian, Ms. Tamar Kanarian and Ms. Araz Kojayan. It is noteworthy that Ms. Carla Khijoyan continues her ecumenical service as head of WCC’s staff responsible for the Middle East.
Of the 352 member churches, around 4000 participants, delegates, advisors, young people, students, guests and observers partook in the different plenaries, ecumenical conversations, worships, workshops, confessional and regional meetings. They discussed and adopted the upcoming mandate of the Central Committee, as well as elected the new members of the Central and Executive Committees.
During the Assembly, our delegates represented the voice of our church, our diaspora and our nation with its various regions, as well as our Oriental Orthodox family in the plenaries and in the following committees: Public Issues (Dr. Bayrakdarian-Kabakian, rapporteur), Nominations (Ms. Kanarian), Programme Guidelines (Prof. Pirri-Simonian), Finance (Ms. Khedeshian), and Message (Fr. Hrant). Moreover, Fr. Hrant was selected to be the moderator of the Ecumenical Conversation on Freedom of Religion and Belief (FORB), which produced a report that will guide the WCC for the subsequent 8-year period.
It is significant that His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, who has served as moderator for two consecutive terms (1991-1998-2005) was unanimously nominated from the Oriental Orthodox Church Family and elected by the whole Assembly as one of the Presidents of the Central Committee.
Furthermore, Archbishop Nareg Alemezian, and V. Rev. Fr. Hrant Tahanian, Ecumenical Officer of the Catholicosate, were elected as members of the Central Committee.
It should be mentioned that with the efforts of Dr. Bayrakdarian-Kabakian, the Assembly adopted a resolution concerning the issue of Arstakh (Nagorno Karabakh) that appeals to the immediate release of all Armenian civilian hostages and POWs, raises the concern for holy sites and the Armenian cultural heritage in the region, urging UNESCO and the international community to take appropriate measures in protecting these sites, and calls for the start of a meaningful dialogue for a just and peaceful settlement of the conflict in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group.
The WCC Assembly is the highest governing body of the World Council of Churches (WCC), and normally meets every eight years. The last GA was held in Busan, South Korea, in 2013, however; due to the Pandemic, the 11th Assembly was postponed for a year to finally be hosted in Karlsruhe at the joint invitation of the local churches.
Year of the Diaspora
To the Prelates,
The Community Leaders
of the Great House of Cilicia,
and to the daughters and sons
of our people,
On the eve of 2022, from the Mother Monastery of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia in Antelias, we greet and bless the National General Assembly, the Religious and Executive Councils of the National Central Committee, the Brotherhood, the Prelates and the Community Leaders, and every union, organization and educational, cultural, and charitable structure that operates in our national life, as well as the beloved daughters and sons of our people. We pray to God Most High that the New Year that begins may be filled with health, success and joy in our individual, family, and national life.
The martyrdom of a large number of Armenians, the occupation of vast territories, the destruction of religious and cultural monuments, and the displacement of thousands of Armenians as a result of the vile attack carried out by the joint forces of Azerbaijan and Turkey on Artsakh in September-November 2020, has caused deep pain and anger among our people. Our people confronted this tragic situation in different ways and expressed its total support for Artsakh. In turn, we at the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia, putting our focus on Artsakh, with our Patriarchal Encyclical proclaimed 2021 the Year of Artsakh. Our concerns and proposals found ample echo particularly in our prelacies. The President of Artsakh expressed his deep satisfaction to Us and invited Us to visit Artsakh. Indeed, our full support for the independence and security of Artsakh continues as one the national priorities of the Holy See.
In the last years, conferences have been convened, studies have been made, and articles have been written about the various problems and issues related to the Diaspora. The current situation of the Diaspora, full of uncertainties and crises, must prompt our leading bodies and intellectuals to think out, examine, and discuss, with realistic spirit and in a responsible manner, how to reorganize the present of the Diaspora and to explore new ways and means for the Diaspora.
Hence, taking into account the current situation of the Diaspora and its crucial importance in Armenian life, with this Patriarchal Encyclical we thereby proclaim 2022
YEAR OF THE DIASPORA
We have entitled the last book we have published in Armenian “Before New Horizons” (Նոր Հորիզոններու Դիմաց). We did not choose this name by chance. With its three branches—Armenia, Artsakh, and the Diaspora—the Armenian people faces many, diverse challenges and perils, and the Diaspora, where the Armenian identity is exposed to attrition, even more so. In some places, it is rocking amid waves of uncertainty; in other places, it is fighting against storms; somewhere else, it is in search of a new identity; and yet in a different place it finds itself rapidly assimilating. Hence, the reorganization and revitalization of the Diaspora is a mandatory task. This ample and multifaceted plan may have a practical application with the introspection and revaluation of the Diaspora, and the clarification of its particular place and role in our national life. Work towards this huge undertaking must begin today; tomorrow may be too late for a Diaspora that lives in the whirlpool of fundamental, fast-paced changes.
A) THE DIASPORA YESTERDAY: SUBSISTENCE AND EVOLUTION
Because of its geographical location, Armenia has often been exposed to attacks and occupation, and has lost its statehood and independence. In consequence, emigration has been a permanent feature of life in Armenian history.
Contacts between the Byzantine Empire and Armenia have been direct and constant, and since ancient times Armenians have settled within the confines of the empire. Outside Armenia, the Armenian people became a collective and organized presence for the first time in Cilicia, even attaining statehood. Following the collapse of the Armenian state of Cilicia (14th century) and of the Byzantine Empire (15th century), Armenians have successively headed to the Balkan countries, where they formed communities over time. Thanks mostly to trade, the Armenians have had relations with the Far East and have established small communities there as well. Since ancient times, large numbers of Armenians have settled in Persia, a neighbor of Armenia. After the breakup of Armenia between Persia and Turkey (16th century), Armenians have become an organized presence in those countries.
As a consequence of the Armenian genocide, Armenians living in Western Armenia and the Armenian lands of Cilicia were forcibly resettled in the Middle East and then, moved by political and financial concerns, over the years they have moved to Europe, North and South America, and as far as Australia. Armenians became a presence in Africa especially after the Second World War. The conditions created by globalization have given new impetus to relocation to other countries by the daughters and sons of the Armenian people, including transcontinental migrations. A new wave of migrations from the former Soviet republics to Western countries has begun after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Finally, the emigration from the homeland after Armenia’s independence was odd and painful.
In light of this brief overview of the evolution of the Diaspora, the following points must be stressed:
- The existence of a widespread Diaspora has its historical causes and stages. The emigration of Armenians from Armenia has often been forcible. In this sense, we must recall the great migration from Armenia to Cilicia, imposed upon them by the Byzantine Empire, and from Western Armenia and Cilicia, by the Ottoman Empire. In addition to political and security factors, economic causes have also driven Armenians to leave. This is how we can define the emigration from Armenia over the last decades.
- Wherever Armenians have settled, they have tried to form a community with its national, religious, educational and other structures, and have made the utmost effort to preserve their national identity, language, faith, and traditions. The Church has played a leading role in the formation and preservation of the Armenian identity of communities.
- The Armenians have not lived isolated in the countries where they have settled. They have participated in the social life and they have even attained high positions.
- The Armenian communities of Lebanon and Syria with their organized life and numerous structures have had a central role in the Diaspora, especially in the religious, cultural, charitable, and political fields.
- As circumstances caused them to lose immediate contact with the mother homeland, a number of communities, especially in the Balkan countries, have dissolved over time, only retaining a weak sense of their Armenian origin.
B) THE DIASPORA TODAY: CONCERNS AND CHALLENGES
We believe we have to focus on a number of special characteristics that define the Diaspora today:
1.- The present Diaspora is a motley mix of the traditional, Soviet, and Republic of Armenia diasporas. The Diaspora that came into existence with fragments of genocide survivors organized itself relatively quickly. The church, the school, and the club had a critical role in the organization and preservation of identity in the Diaspora. The Diaspora survived gathering around the structures it created and became a whole of communities that demanded justice and lived with the dream of a free, independent and united Armenia, and fought for it. Armenians who emigrated from the Soviet republics joined the traditional diaspora and, in a short time, they mingled with their conationals. With the new independence of Armenia, many thought that a repatriation might begin and that the Diaspora would soon extinguish. The opposite happened. Moved by economic reasons and attracted by the vast possibilities of the West, the depopulation of Armenia began. Along with its numeric growth, the Diaspora also expanded because of inter-community migrations. There are many causes that contribute to the continuation of the aforementioned developments. The Diaspora is not a stable reality but it is always in constant change.
2.- What does it mean to be Armenian in the Diaspora, what are the parameters for being Armenian? The traditional diaspora born with the memory of the genocide had its own particular self-knowledge. The formation of new diasporas and the development of Diaspora-Armenia relations gave a new character to the Diaspora, while globalization put new realities and horizons before the Diaspora, driving it to different approaches, concerns, and even values. Therefore, how can the diasporas be harmonized and complement each other, when they have had different historical evolutions, have been conditioned by different experiences and different mentalities and different ways of doing things and lifestyles, beyond coexisting in the same community? No planned and consistent steps have been taken in this direction. It would seem that there is a lack of will. But such an effort is inevitably required. How can the self-knowledge of the Diaspora Armenian be defined, by determining collective standards, without ignoring the new realities created by globalization and the local conditions?
3.- Staying Armenian in Armenia is a natural thing. In the Diaspora, staying Armenian is a matter of preference. Therefore, it is a daily crisis and struggle. In the not distant past, being different from someone else was a standard and effective means for preserving the Armenian identity. How can Armenians safely preserve their identity when they live in a multiracial, multicultural, and multireligious setting in a globalized world, in which the fences separating them from the rest no longer exist, where the other is their neighbor, friend, colleague and sometimes even family member? We need to be realistic. The Diaspora Armenians no longer consider themselves immigrants and foreigners. They are fully entitled citizens of the countries where they live and have adapted to the place where they are and to the local culture. The Armenian identity continues to express itself in an augmented manner wherever Armenian life exists in a collective and organized presence. In places where Armenians are not present in large numbers, however, the efforts for preservation have begun to dwindle before an increasingly assimilated identity. Hence, with a view of preserving the Armenian roots healthy, how can language, homeland, religion, traditions, key historical events, the struggle for justice be transformed into the foundations of belonging to one single nation, with a new approach, enhancing each of these factors?
4.- The structures of the Diaspora played a defining role in the organization of the Diaspora as well as the vitality of our religious, cultural and national values. Today, however, our structures are faced with the danger of losing their appeal and becoming outdated. With their inward-looking approaches, traditional behavior, and outdated agendas, they can no longer satisfy the demands of the new generations. In other words, the communities cannot preserve their organizational power and the vitality of their Armenian identity with exhausted structures that no longer respond to current realities. Hence, the renewal and modernization of structures is more than urgent, considering their central place and key role within the Armenian life.
5.- Western Armenian is falling into disuse. The decline in its use and its linguistic corruption have become widespread and obvious. The causes are obvious and the consequences, dangerous. Language is one of the strong pillars of national identity, especially for a nation that is small and lives in the diaspora. To deal with the retreat of Western Armenian, the Holy See has resorted to practical steps. Hence, how can new impetus be given to this important project and actively involve our educational and cultural structures and intellectuals who are committed to the mission of Armenian nation-building?
6.- Alongside our structure, our mentality and way of doing things have begun to rust as well. Ignoring the new developments and looming challenges around us may lead our communities to self-isolation. The Diaspora can no longer work with stereotypes. The tools and standards for the preservation of the Armenian identity, in fact, do not correspond to the conditions of the modern world and to the views and expectations of the new generation. The new generation has begun to distance itself from our structures, and even from our values and traditions which, have been preserved in these structures with huge sacrifices, but which are imprisoned there at the same time, and the youth live their Armenian identity with new perspectives and in new ways. The Armenian identity is exposed to the risk of dissolving among the new generation. This is where the crisis is, because it is the new generation that will revitalize the Diaspora with new air and forge its future. Therefore, how can the three levels of the identity of an Armenian—local, Armenian, and global—be reconciled, staying clear from mentalities and lifestyles that may lead to contradictions and polarization? We have often emphasized the importance of gathering the new generation around us and having a serious dialogue.
7.- The Diaspora is a forum for different ways of thinking, sometimes contradictory and sometimes concurrent, often determined by socio-political factors that concern both the Republic of Armenia and the local scene. This is inevitable. We must, however, take Diaspora communities out of their localized, inward-looking, and divisive mentalities and open the way to a pan-Diasporic thinking. In fact, in the last few years, thanks to the initiative of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia, congresses that have been convened on the Diaspora, and sometimes on national, educational, historical, reparations and other themes, have already planted the seeds of pan-Diasporic thinking with the guidelines defined by them and their conclusions. With the representative status and quality of their participants, they can also become the platform for the creation of a pan-Diasporic leadership. Such work presupposes close and integral cooperation between structures within communities and between communities, with a pan-Diasporic agenda. Such an initiative will contribute greatly to the revitalization of life in the Diaspora, a harmonization of views existing in it and a reinforcement of its overarching importance in the Armenian world.
8.- The Diaspora must be careful to avoid being trapped in either an Armenia-centric or a Diaspora-centric mentality. Its goal must be the development of an Armenian-centric thinking, which can create an ample space for a dialogue among different viewpoints. Indeed, with its special nuances and rich experience, the Diaspora can bring its important contribution to the development of a pan-Armenian thinking, built on a pan-Armenian agenda. Therefore, how can belonging to one and the same Armenian nation be transformed into the foundation and pathway to a pan-Armenian thinking, while at the same preserving the views of a Diaspora that is exposed to local conditions and factors as well as the importance of pan-Diasporic priorities? The first is mandatory; the second is inevitable.
9.- The Diaspora has an enormous potential in terms of culture, religion, economy, expertise, relations and experience. However, adaptation and assimilation here, or indifference and oblivion there have begun to drain the potential of Armenian life. In fact, the Diaspora has not been able to hold on to its vigor and use it correctly and fully. In this sense, efforts have been made by several organizations both in Armenia and the Diaspora, but they have been partial and circumstantial. The organization and utilization of the potential of the Diaspora is a must. Such an initiative requires collective and consistent work.
10.- With the new independence of Armenia, a gradual repatriation was to be expected. The opposite happened. Armenia was not able, and could not create ample opportunities for economic development, and promote repatriation plans. Awarding citizenship to Diaspora Armenians was an encouraging step without a doubt, but it did not go beyond reinforcing the sentimental links with the homeland. In the case of the Armenians who left Armenia in the last few decades, the return to the homeland is indispensable, whereas for the traditional diaspora, at present, this is not considered realistic. But we must keep it on the national agenda as one of the essential elements of national belonging. If the idea of repatriation, reinforced with the vision of a united Armenia hosting the totality of the Armenian people, even if as ultimate goal, disappears from the Armenian life, the Diaspora will lose its guiding principle and its decline will proceed apace. Data points to a Diaspora that will continue to exist for a long time, exposed to the risk of fading. Hence, the demographic growth of the global Armenian people and the physical preservation of the Armenian presence in Armenia and Artsakh have critical importance. This objective can be attained in Armenia, with the development of the economy, guaranteeing the security of the country and directing to Armenia the little and isolated communities of the Diaspora, which for whatever reasons are exposed to the risk of rapid assimilation, while raising the birthrate in the Diaspora and resorting to other effective methods.
11.- The vision of Great Armenia-great Diaspora must become the foundation and the goal of our national strategy. More than ever, Armenia and the Diaspora need each other. In consequence, the Diaspora-Armenia cooperation must remain one of the vital dimensions in the life of both Armenia and the Diaspora. It is not correct to consider the Diaspora an annex to Armenia, nor is it right to entertain its inward-looking existence as a self-serving goal. It is not right either to consider the Diaspora just the totality of communities that promote charitable projects and develop economic plans in Armenia. The Diaspora is an indivisible part of the same Armenian nation. In fact, beyond being the homeland that fosters a feeling of patriotism, Armenia was not able to inspire confidence and hope and become the collective home for the Armenian people scattered around the world. In the last decade, the emphasis was placed on investments and tourism. The internal political problems and help for socio-economic plans figure prominently in the agenda of the Armenian Diaspora, often marginalizing the priorities of the Diaspora. Cooperation between the two poles of the Armenian people must be comprehensive, planned and consistent, grounded upon reciprocal trust. Armenia plays an essential role in the revitalization of the Diaspora, especially in the fields of culture and education. On the other hand, within the sphere of Armenia-Diaspora cooperation, we consider indispensable for the Diaspora to have an active participation in the administration of Armenia as well as in the discussion of pan-Armenian issues and plans.
C) TOWARDS THE REORGANIZATION OF THE DIASPORA: FIELDS AND COURSE OF ACTION
The concerns and challenges we have pointed out require a deep, realistic, and comprehensive assessment. For more than thirty years, Armenia and Artsakh have become the focus of life in the Diaspora. Without a doubt, these two poles of our nation, with their difficulties and imperatives, must always remain a priority for the Diaspora. The Diaspora is not a goal in itself; its vision must always be directed to Armenia, the backbone of the Armenian present and the guarantee of its future. With this deep awareness, the Diaspora is called upon to reorganize itself. Today most of our nation lives in the Diaspora. Therefore, it is time, at this moment in the history of our nation, for self-organization to become the priority of the Diaspora.
We want to especially stress that we can no longer reorganize and revitalize the Diaspora with worn structures, fossilized mentality, stereotyped views, and yellowed agendas. With its structures and agenda, its bylaws and way of doing things, the Diaspora must walk with the new times and challenges. How can this colossal work be undertaken? The realistic assessment of the current state of the Diaspora and its planning must become the linchpin and the driving force of our work. In this sense, the role of every organization and association in the community is crucial, as well as that of experienced intellectuals with expertise in different fields.
1) PRELACY STRUCTURES
The life of the traditional diaspora is organized around the church. Each community has considered the church the center of its collective life and has built its establishments with different missions around it. The church, in turn, has not been able to keep pace with the changing conditions of life. The reformation of the church is also urgent. The church-people relationship must acquire a new quality and style and the church must become a presence of service in the life of the people. There, taking into consideration the central role of the church in the life of a community, the reorganization of a community must begin with parish life.
In the last meeting of the National Executive Council (Dec. 5-8, 2017), in both our message and the meeting decisions, we have paid major attention especially to the reorganization of parishes and have defined a special roadmap. Nevertheless, the pandemic slowed the planning work that our prelacies had to carry out. Here we want to outline the work that the prelacies must undertake:
The Priest has an important role in the reorganization of a prelacy. The formation of priests who have an awareness of the vocation and have the intellectual and religious preparation to tackle the challenges of present times is essential. The Parish, as the foundation of life and mission of the church, must become the focus of reorganization activities. We must renew the bodies that work in the reorganization of the church, putting to work educated women and young people. It is indispensable to give priority to: a) Christian education, with the revitalization of Sunday schools, teaching religious subjects in Armenian schools, and the practice of spiritual and moral values in the life of Armenian families; b) social service, making it one of the essential dimensions of the mission of the church; c) the Armenian school, reemphasizing its mission in the building of the Armenian nation.
2) COMMUNITY STRUCTURES
The Prelacy is not an independent unit from the community: the prelacy are the people themselves. In this sense, the harmonic cooperation between organizations in the life of the community and the prelacy will surely contribute to the reorganization of the community. It is therefore advisable that cooperation begin while preparing plans. Community structures participate in the activity of prelacy bodies, but they have their own bylaws and priorities. Our structures have begun to lose manpower; a drop in numbers is matched by a decline in quality. New blood must be injected in them, ensuring a prevalence of young men and women, including in the leadership. The update of bylaws of structures and adaptation to local conditions, while preserving their pan-Diasporic and pan-Armenian nature and objectives, are inevitable. A close cooperation among the structures as well as creating harmony among them will contribute greatly a further blooming of community life and the revitalization of the Diaspora.
The reorganization of the Diaspora is a complex, long-term plan. The realization of such an ambitious plan presupposes collective faith and dedication, leadership and engagement. It also requires an expert view and comprehensive planning that may be implemented gradually. This work requires considering the internal situation of communities living in different environments, the peculiarities of the working structures and their setting, and adopt the required approach accordingly.
Therefore, how can this enormous task be undertaken?
1) Preparing the setting is a precondition. Our structures, their leaders and members must be ready for the urgent need for restructuring. In this sense, writing articles, public discussions and convening conferences may be useful for the exchange of opinions, predisposing minds, creating a positive climate.
2) Each structure must undertake its restructuring, taking into account the concerns and issues We have pointed out, and then, as needed, coordinating with other organizations the work it has carried out.
3) Planning must be followed by implementation. This is naturally the most difficult stage. Implementation must be carried out according to priorities and with planned consistency.
Faithful to its past, the Armenian people are called upon to permanently to revalue and renew themselves, keeping pace with the changing times, conditions, and challenges. The Diaspora must undertake its reorganization and revitalization with this vision. To leave the Diaspora in its current state means to accelerate its attrition. The reorganization of the Diaspora is the path to its growth, and the growth of the Diaspora is the growth of Armenia and Artsakh, and this is a pan-Armenian priority and challenge. We must set out to work without any delay.
We advise the prelacies of our Holy See to immediately begin planning to be able to complete it before the upcoming National General Assembly.
With warm fatherly love,
CATHOLICOS ARAM I
GREAT HOUSE OF CILICIA
January 1, 2022
LET US UNITE AROUND THE SUPREME INTERESTS OF OUR NATION AND HOMELAND
On New Year’s Eve, we greet the beloved sons and daughters of our people with Christian love and patriarchal blessings.
The New Year is a moment that invites the person, whether individually or collectively, to introspection and self-examination. Let us turn our eyes to the Armenian life.
Like entire mankind, our people continue to live in the challenging circumstances created by the pandemic. All the Diaspora communities, to a greater or lesser extent, are dealing with a variety of concerns. In this context, the Armenians of Lebanon in particular are going through challenging times because of the unprecedented financial crisis. Despite the present dire circumstances, we will continue with renewed faith and resolve our collective commitment to reconstruction, always being with the sons and daughters of our people and by their side.
Indeed, we have proclaimed 2022 the Year of the Diaspora. I invite all our structures, the press, the intellectuals, and the communities, to revalue and reorganize the Diaspora with a realistic approach and a comprehensive vision, having the Patriarchal Message we have published as a guide. This is a mandatory and urgent priority.
Let us turn to Armenia. Our homeland continues to be rocked by waves of uncertainty and hopelessness. On the one hand, the tense political situation in Armenia weakens our collective strength. On the other, the enemy imposes conditions from a triumphalist standpoint, ignoring the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Armenia as well as international law.
Yes, ours is a small country: we need to have a realistic view of the evolution of geopolitical circumstances in the region. Nevertheless, that does not mean that Armenia will not have a say on its national interests and issues that pertain its present and future.
Yes, we agree to a general and permanent peace in the region, but not from defeatist and concessive positions. Yes, we agree to projects that contribute to economic development in the region. But not at the expense of Armenia and Artsakh’s sovereignty, independence, security, and territorial integrity.
Today, there is an attempt to submit Armenia and the entire region to a pan-Turkic strategy coordinated by Turkey and Azerbaijan. Indeed, any agreement signed with Azerbaijan, in which Artsakh is included as part of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, and likewise, any agreement with Turkey that accepts the explicit preconditions set by Turkey, would be an undermining of the Proclamation of Independence and the principles of the Constitution on the part of Armenia. The Diaspora cannot remain indifferent to such dangerous steps. The Diaspora must have its active participation in the discussion of Armenian issues. Our enemies and friends must learn that Armenia is not alone, is not orphaned, the entire Diaspora is on its side, the Armenian people are one and an indivisible whole.
For different reasons, we lost a battle but not the war. The struggle of the Armenian people continues, for the sake of strengthening the independence of Armenia and Artsakh and the reestablishment of our national rights.
The struggle of the Armenian people must continue:
–Reorganizing the Armenian army and arming it with modern weapons.
–Defending our borders, even resorting to popular resistance according to need.
–Negotiating with martial spirit.
–Uniting around the supreme and general interests of our homeland.
Let us renew our national vows and strengthened with greater faith and willpower greet each other saying Happy New Year. May God bless all the sons and daughters of our nation and protect our nation and our homeland away from all misfortune and evil.
CATHOLICOS ARAM I
GREAT HOUSE OF CILICIA
December 26, 2021
CATHOLICOS CONDEMNS AZERBAIJANI PROVOCATIONS
The Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia has strongly condemned the latest provocations and attacks by the Azerbaijani regime since last week, with flagrant infringements on the sovereignty of Armenia and Armenian casualties.
With its systematic aggression, Azerbaijan is deliberately breaching the ceasefire agreement in place since November 2020.
The Holy See expresses its full support to the Armenian armed forces and repudiates the Azerbaijani regime, calling on foreign leaders to help maintain peace in the region and end the provocations by the aggressor party, Azerbaijan.
His Holiness Aram I is always praying for the wellbeing of Armenia, its army and its people.
CATHOLICOS ARAM I: “THE CATHOLICOSATE OF THE GREAT HOUSE OF CILICIA STANDS WITH YOU, LEBANESE ARMENIANS”
His Holiness Catholicos Aram I delivered his pontifical message to the Lebanese Armenian community on Sunday, September 5, following Divine Liturgy, celebrated at Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church of Bourdj Hamoud by His Grace Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Prelate of the Prelacy of the Western United States.
The Catholicos said that the people are not responsible for the current financial and economic crisis in Lebanon, but the representatives elected by the people. Presidents, prime ministers, and governments have led the country down this path, he said, adding that the Armenian community, with its key role in the life of Lebanon, will make itself heard and will defend its rights.
His Holiness lamented the current situation, saying it is even worse than the difficulties endured during the terrible days of the long-lasting civil war. He reaffirmed, however, that Lebanese Armenians, must remain attached to the country.
“The Armenians are and must continue to be responsible for their reorganization, to become great again,” he said. “We express our full appreciation to all those who in the last 40 years, during the crises faced by the Lebanese Armenians, gave their support to it.”
In his message, His Holiness said that the Catholicosate will always be there for the people who need it, “wherever there is a struggle for justice for our nation, wherever there is the demand to help our people.”
In this regard, he announced that the Holy See will continue to provide assistance to needy households in every part of the country, including $1 million in help to be distributed within the next two weeks.
He further said that the Catholicosate will provide $4 million for the construction of new houses in the Armenian quarter of Bourdj Hamoud, supporting a project developed by the local municipality.
The Catholicos also announced that all debts and obligations for the Fanar houses, a popular residential project built with support from the Catholicosate, would be condoned, granting the property to tenants.
He also said that fundraisers for the Armenian Prelacy of Lebanon will continue.
Schools also will get aid from the Holy See as they are a stronghold of Armenian identity. A new plan has been developed to support educational institutions, he said.
“Dear Lebanese Armenians, you are not a regular community and you must not become one,” the Catholicos said in his closing remarks. “We are with you in the full sense of the word: with renewed dedication, you will continue to play a central role in the life of the Armenian world… With this expectation I urge you once again not to despair and to be on the side of light, faith, and resolve.”
CATHOLICOS ARAM I: “WE MUST HELP LEBANON ARMENIANS GET BACK ON THEIR FEET”
His Holiness Catholicos Aram I met with the leadership of the Armenian community of Lebanon during a visit to Bourdj Hamoud, the Armenian quarter of Beirut, on August 11. The delegation included Armenian lawmakers, an interim cabinet minister, community and political party representatives and journalists.
The meeting, which took place at the Yercho Samuelian-Yerakooyn Hall of the Armenian Prelacy of Lebanon, served as an opportunity for community leaders to voice their concerns about the multiple difficulties faced by Lebanese Armenians as the country goes through an unprecedented political and financial crisis.
His Holiness said that neither the church nor community organizations can remain indifferent to the plight of Lebanese Armenians.
“The Armenians of Lebanon are not an ordinary community; history shows its key role in the life of our people in the Diaspora and, relatively, in Armenia and Artsakh,” the Catholicos said. “Therefore I believe we must continue the work to help the Armenian community of Lebanon get back on its feet.”
HIS HOLINESS ARAM I IS INVITED TO THE G20 INTERFAITH FORUM AS A KEYNOTE SPEAKER
His Holiness Aram I is invited as a keynote speaker at the G20 Interfaith Forum. Catholicos Aram I will speak about: “The role of religious leaders and institutions in responding to crisis in the Arab Region”. The G20 Interfaith Forum will take place between September 12-14, 2021 in Bologna, Italy. Participants include religious leaders, academics, journalists, and high ranking representatives of civil society.
CATHOLICOS ARAM I: LEBANESE DEMAND JUSTICE A YEAR AFTER BEIRUT BLAST
Lebanese people are still waiting for justice a year after the powerful blast in the port of Beirut, said Catholicos Aram I on Sunday, August 1, following a requiem service for the victims.
“Justice cannot be sacrificed to political considerations and personal calculations,” His Holiness said in statements aired on Cilicia TV. “The explosion in the port of Beirut not only caused enormous destruction and many victims, but also it clearly showed the negligent and unscrupulous attitude of certain government officials in the performance of their duties.”
The people, the Catholicos said, “demands accountability and justice.”
The explosion of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate on August 4, 2020, left more than 200 dead and injured more than 7,000 of people, causing massive material damages throughout the city.
CATHOLICOS ARAM I: YOUTH MUST GATHER AROUND ARMENIAN VALUES
Armenian youth must gather around our national values, becoming an active part of national and community life, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I said in his address to the participants of an advisory conference call organized on Friday, May 14, by the Youth Committee of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia. The videoconference was attended by young women and men from different parishes and regions as well as the Cilician brotherhood members of the Youth Committee.
Prior to inviting His Holiness to deliver his message to participants, His Grace Bishop Mesrob Sarkissian, head of the Youth Committee, explained that the pandemic had restricted the ability of this body to put into practice the recommendations adopted in the advisory meeting that took place in Antelias in 2019.
The Catholicos said that in our globalized world youth often find that our community structures may be too attached to traditional ways, preventing a more active involvement by them. Youth, His Holiness said, have a vital role in the renewal of our church and national life.
In this regard, he urged Armenian organizations to adopt the format of forums and dialogues that are common nowadays. He stressed that Armenians should profit from these avenues of cooperation to gather our youth around fundamental national values and principles.
The Catholicos left the meeting upon delivering his remarks and the virtual floor opened to a lively discussion among participants about different approaches to attain these goals.
CATHOLICOS PRAISES PRESIDENT BIDEN FOR ‘HISTORIC STATEMENT’
In a letter addressed to U.S. President Joseph R. Biden, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I thanks him for his “historic statement” on occasion of the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide on April 24.
“I express profound gratitude on behalf of my predecessors, who were forced to leave the centuries-old historic Centre of the Armenian Church at the Catholicosate in Sis (the present-day Kozan) and settle in Lebanon, as well as the survivors of the genocide who are dispersed all over the world,” His Holiness says.
The Catholicos tells Mr. Biden that he “will be remembered as the President of the United States of America who fulfilled his electoral campaign pledge and inspired hope to victims whose legitimate rights have been continually denied.” Most importantly, His Holiness adds, President Biden has “reaffirmed the commitment of the United States of America to justice, human rights, and accountability.”
His Holiness closes his message by saying that President Biden’s decision is “a bold attempt to seek alternative strategies to overcome geopolitical interests as well as a reminder to world politicians that electoral pledges are responsible commitments to justice and not a means to seek power.”
The Easter Message of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I
In his epistle to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul reminds us that, “when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12).
With the baptism, the Christian becomes member of the Church. The Church is Christ with his mystical body, his life and mission. By way of the Church, Christ is continuously being born, teaching, performing miracles, tortured, crucified and resurrected. The Christian is called on participating in every act, instance, and apparition of Christ’s life and mission.
The Gospels describe the main events and teachings that pertain the salvation mission of the Son of God. As a persecutor of the Christian faith and then a prisoner for his unbreakable commitment to becoming its witness, the Apostle Paul shows to the new Christians the fundamental conditions to follow the resurrected Christ. He reminds them that we had died because of our sins, but that God resurrected us together with Christ; hence, we are reunited with Christ and have become new persons (Ephesians 2:4-6).
Indeed, burying sin and vanquishing evil, with His resurrection Christ gave new life to man, a resurrected life. The man who has made the promise to follow Christ is called on living the resurrected life through the blood spilled by Christ and the power of the cross. Therefore, we need to die with Christ, bury our trespasses, to be able to live with the resurrected Christ. “Put away your former way of life, your old self… clothe yourselves with the new self” (Ephesians 4:22-24). This is the condition to follow the resurrected Christ. And as the starting point of a Christ-centric life, the Apostle Paul testifies through his personal example, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
Now, what are the preconditions to live the resurrected Christ in our lives? By way of his epistles and examples of his life, the Apostle Paul gives the exact answer to this difficult question. Let us try to focus on the advice the Apostle gives to Christians of all times.
-The Apostle first urges us to examine ourselves to see if we may remain steadfast in our faith. The faith based on the resurrection of Christ is fundamental for the Christian man, because “if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). This is why the Apostle exhorts to be firm in our faith, live and act with faith and “take the shield of faith” (Ephesians 6:16) in the fight against evil.
-Then the Apostle urges us to turn faith into service, telling us to have compassion and kindness for our kin (Colossians 3:12). Serve those in need, the sick, the poor and the despondent, following the example of the “Good Samaritan.”
-The Apostle recommends us to be meek and humble, not to be vainglorious and not to be altered by honor and good repute (2 Corinthians 6:8). He reminds us that the incarnated Son of God shows us with his example the greatness and value of submission.
-The Apostle also exhorts us to be kind and compassionate, forgiving and tolerant with each other, and reminding us of God’s forgiveness toward the sinful man, telling us to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2).
-The Apostle especially calls on us to clothe ourselves “with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14). The loving person is submissive and patient, he keeps jealousy and pride away from his life, and lives strengthened with faith and hope.
-Never get tired of doing good, and “whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all” (Galatians 6:10), vanquishing evil with good, recommends the Apostle, assuring that doing good, God “will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
-Considering hope a heavenly gift, be patient in suffering, always rejoice in hope (Romans 12:12), the Apostle says, because it is Christ who lives and acts in us. And after affirming that for him “living is Christ” (Philippians 1:21), he reminds us that we take part in the triumphal procession of the resurrected Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14) and we await his second coming.
-In his epistles sent to the newly established churches, the Apostle Paul stresses the vital importance of prayer in our lives. He strongly recommends us to always pray, to be grateful to God, our maker, guardian and protector.
This is the imperative to participate in the resurrection of Christ and live the resurrected life given by Him. With the recommendations listed above, the Apostle defines the rightful path for the Christians to live their lives.
Christianity did not become a religion founded just upon social and moral teachings, but a life firmly based on the triumphal resurrection of the Son of God, and a particular way of life to understand and live life. This self-knowledge kept Christianity strong and vital, despite all persecutions and massacres.
Christ conceived his resurrection with the cross and with his resurrection gave new life to man. To follow Christ means walking the way of the cross and live the resurrected life with its mystery and message.
* * *
On the occasion of the feast of the miraculous resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we greet with brotherly love His Holiness Karekin II Catholicos of All Armenians, wishing him a long pontificate of rich and constructive service for the Church. We also greet His Beatitude the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Archbishop Nourhan Manougian and His Beatitude the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople Archbishop Sahag Mashalian, wishing them a fruitful service in the Armenian Church.
With patriarchal blessings and fatherly love we greet the Prelates of the Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia, the clergy, the community leaders, the organizations and associations that serve our people, begging God that the beloved daughters and sons of our nation, strengthened with the Resurrected Christ, face the several difficulties of our times and renew their lives following the exhortations of the Apostle Paul.
Christ is risen from the dead,
Blessed is the resurrection of Christ.
CATHOLICOS ARAM I
GREAT HOUSE OF CILICIA
* * *
2021 Easter Message To Eastern Prelacy
Antelias, Easter 2021
His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate
Armenian Prelacy of the Eastern United States
“I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). The resurrected Christ made this promise to his disciples who were called upon to continue his mission.
History shows that Christ was with his church in the most adverse circumstances in history. Immersed in the faith and hope of the resurrected Christ, the church kept standing and vital, in spite of the terrible massacres, persecutions and destruction.
It was also thus the Armenian Church, which assimilated the suffering of the people and grew strong with the resurrection of Christ. Indeed, with its spiritual and intellectual creativity and its devoted service to the people, the Armenian Church turned the miraculous presence of Christ into a living experience inside of us.
Today, our Church, surrounded by several crises in the life of our people, faithful to its sublime mission, is called upon renewing our life with the breathing resurrection of Christ, making the realization of the biblical truths and values the focus of its testimony.
Therefore, it is our expectation that renewed with the miraculous resurrection of Christ, together with the clergy and the community leadership, you continue with even more dedication your mission of service to the people entrusted to your spiritual care.
Christ has risen from the dead!
Blessed is the resurrection of Christ!
With patriarchal blessings and warm paternal love,
Catholicos Aram I
Great House of Cilicia
2021 Lenten Message
Today marks the first day of lent. Click here to listen to His Holiness’ message.
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS
CATHOLICOS ARAM I
GREAT HOUSE OF CILICIA
2021 YEAR OF ARTSAKH
At the year 2021 begins, from the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia in Antelias, we greet and bless the National General Assembly, the Religious and Executive Councils of the National Central Committee, the Brotherhood, the Prelates and the Community Leaders, as well as every union, organization and educational, cultural, and charitable structure that operates in our national life. We pray to God Most High that the New Year that begins may be filled with health, success and joy in our individual, family, and national life.
* * *
We had proclaimed 2020 the “Year of People With Special Needs.” In this sense, we paid visits to the Birds’ Nest, the Armenian Nursing Home, the Armenian Clinic, the Zvartnots Center, charitable, humanitarian and social and medical centers, and we expressed our fatherly care and support as well as our appreciation to all fellow Armenians who help our daughters and sons with special needs who are housed in the aforementioned organizations and receive their care there. We gave the same advice to our Prelates and Community Leaders. However, the crisis that ensued in the course of this year did not allow us to prepare more thorough and consistent plans and carry out more work in this regard. Nevertheless, our concern and responsibility remain the same.
Indeed, this past year, 2020, was a year full of many crisis of different sorts for humankind in general and for our people in particular. In the first place, the perilous situation created by the coronavirus pandemic had a profound effect on all walks of life. The entire world was shocked; the pandemic caused a very large number of cases of contagion and death as well as an economic crisis. The pandemic continues with the same intensity despite the preventive measures adopted and the development of a vaccination. Naturally, life in Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora bore the heavy consequences of the pandemic.
Along with the pandemic, 2020 brought an additional crisis to the Armenian community of Lebanon. Indeed, as the financial difficulties grew worse, they created serious economic concerns for our families and organizations. Moreover, the catastrophic explosion of August 4 in the port of Beirut left Armenian casualties and caused a lot of destruction. Both the Catholicosate and the Prelacy as well as all our organizations did their utmost to succor families in need, rebuild destroyed homes and lead the reconstruction of the Armenian community of Lebanon. In this sense, the material and moral support of the Armenian state, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, the Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Constantinople, our prelacies and communities as well as individuals, was an important pillar for the recovery of the Armenian community of Lebanon. Assistance continues to be provided in phases, under our auspices and under the supervision of the committee made up of representatives of the three denominations, political parties and charitable associations.
Since September 27, 2020, the Armenian people aregoing through a terrible crisis that surpasses the ones mentioned before: the joint attack by Azerbaijani and Turkish troops on Artsakh. Indeed, the commotion caused by the Artsakh war in all its aspects and consequences is unprecedented in the history of the Armenian people in a century. For decades, we prayed and communicated, we wrote and sang and, especially, we believed that Artsakh is ours and that we were “going to win” this war imposed on us. In fact, however, the opposite happened. Most of Artsakh was occupied by the Azerbaijanis, we had hundreds of dead and injured, monasteries and homes were destroyed, and a large number of families became refugees. Our sons and daughters of both Artsakh and Armenia continue to bear the heavy consequences of the war.
Therefore, taking into account the strong link of our people to Artsakh, its right to self-determination and independence, and driven by the expectation of making Artsakh the focus of our concerns and work, we proclaim 2021
YEAR OF ARTSAKH
We are sure that the sons and daughters of our people know, to a greater or lesser degree, about Artsakh; some have visited Artsakh and some others have even settled there. Nevertheless, on this opportunity, we believe we have to provide basic information about the geography and history of Artsakh, an important region of historic Armenia, followed by some remarks and suggestions.
* * *
ARTSAKH YESTERDAY AND TODAY
Artsakh, in the east of the Armenian Highlands, with its towering and impregnable mountains, its deep passes, profound valleys, dense forests and wide plateaus, has been a fortress in the defense of the Armenian identity and the vanguard in the national liberation struggles unleashed against foreign conquerors and tyranny.
One of the fifteen provinces of historical Armenia, Artsakh borders: to the East and Northeast, Utik; to the West and Southwest, Syunik, and to the South, the Araxes river. Artsakh is divided into fifteen districts. Its main cities are Shushi, Hadrut, Martuni, Stepanakert, Askeran, Martakert, Talish, Arrajadzor, and Vank.
Almost every river in Artsakh originates from the western and southwestern high mountains and,descending through valleys and glens, flow to the East and the Southeast. Artsakh also has cold and hot mineral waters and fountains. Approximately half of its surface is covered with dense forests with a large variety of trees and vegetation, including a rich diversity of fruit and wild trees. Artsakh is also rich with a diverse fauna as well as mines, including those of copper, lead, gold, iron, sulfur, marble, limestone, tuff, sand, and clay. The climate of Artsakh is mostly dry: winters are cold, with heavy snowfall; spring is pleasant; summer is sunny, and autumn is mild.
The land of Artsakh is fertile. Thanks to its rich pastures, Artsakh has ample potential for raising cattle. Beekeeping is especially developed. The dialect of Artsakh has subgroups, and different regions and villages have their own variants of speech. Since ancient times, Artsakh Armenians have been famous as carpet weavers.
Since the oldest days in Armenian history, Artsakh has been a part of the Armenian state. Greek historian and geographer Strabo includes Artsakh in Greater Armenia. King of kings Tigranes the Great built the city of Tigranakert in Artsakh, named after him. After Christianism became the state religion of Armenia, St. Grigoris, grandson of St. Gregory the Illuminator, became the first bishop of Artsakh and CaucasianAlbania after being ordained a bishop in Caesarea and founded the monastery of Amaras.
For a time, Artsakh hosted the Caucasian Albanian Catholicosate, with Bishop Abas being the first Catholicos. As this Catholicosate was transferred to the monastery of Gandzasar in the fourteenth century, it became known as the Gandzasar Catholicosate. In 1815 it became a diocese, with the Ghazanchetsots All Savior’s church of Shushi becoming its seat. Artsakh had many monasteries, which also became centers that irradiated culture and education: in addition to its role in culture, for a time Gandzasar was also a center of the liberation struggle. Artsakh was rich in churches and shrines. In the course of history, Artsakh has given many religious, educational, public, and political figures, including Catholicos Karekin I Hovsepian, of blessed memory, of the Antelias period of the Holy See of Cilicia.
For a long time, Artsakh preserved its singular political status and its autonomy, including the period of Arab rule over Armenia. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, it endured the invasions of the nomadic Turkish-Mongolian and Turkmen tribes. Since the fourteenth century, when the ethnic makeup of the Armenian Highland had changed and the Turkic tribes were already becoming the ruling majority, the name of Gharabagh began to be used instead of Artsakh. At the end of the seventeenth century, to fight Persian and Turkish rule, five principalities were formed in Gharabagh, which history records with the name of Khamsa Melikdoms.
After the establishment of the Soviet regime, Artsakh was occupied by Azerbaijan, and, with the intervention of the Soviet Union, the Autonomous Region of Mountainous Gharabagh was created in 1923. The liberation movement of Artsakh began in 1988 as the Soviet Union was beginning to collapse, and in 1991 the Republic of Artsakh was proclaimed; Shushi was liberated on May 9, 1992. The liberation of Shushi became a symbol of the national renaissance of Artsakh.
Today, most of Artsakh is occupied by Azerbaijan. In the course of its long history, Artsakh has been subjected to this kind of blows, but it has always endured and survived. A defeatist state of mind is incompatible with the spirit of the Armenians: their refuge is faith and hope. The only path to victory for the Armenian people that are shocked as a consequence of the blow sustained by Artsakh is the dedicated struggle, anchored in their faith, to recover their rights.
* * *
FROM TRAGEDY TO REBIRTH
As we mentioned, in the early days of the collapse of the Soviet Union, thanks to the heroic sons of our nation, the independence of Artsakh was proclaimed and new territories were liberated with the goal of ensuring the security of the Republic of Artsakh. Azerbaijan refused to accept this new reality. The attempts by Azerbaijan to reoccupy Artsakh and the occupied districts failed, and Armenia and Azerbaijan signed a ceasefire in 1994. The ceasefire was followed by political negotiations under the auspices of the Minsk Group, co-chaired by the United States, Russia, and France. The negotiations lasted approximately 15 years. The approach of Armenia was always based on the same principle: that Artsakh needs to be a party to the negotiations; the return of the liberated districts and a decision on the status of Artsakh must be done simultaneously as one indivisible whole, and the people of Artsakh must reestablish its right to self-rule. The approach of Azerbaijan was always the same: that the occupied lands must be returned and that Artsakh is part of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and that the matter of its autonomy can be examined in a later stage.
Attempts to find common ground between both rival approaches obviously failed in the negotiations. On different occasions, Azerbaijan tried to impose its claims by force of arms, especially during the four-day war of 2016. In the face of Armenia and Artsakh’s uncompromising position, Azerbaijan signed a military agreement with Turkey, adding terrorists from Syria and other countries to its ranks, and on September 27 it launched a surprise attack on all fronts over Artsakh. The Azerbaijani and Turkish army, endowed with modern and sophisticated weapons, not only subjected the Armenian army positions to relentless air bombardment and land attacks, but also every city and village of Artsakh beginning with Stepanakert, causing many casualties and terrible damage. The war lasted 44 days: the Armenian army bravely resisted the huge Azerbaijani and Turkish army.
Taking into account the grave destruction caused by the war and the geopolitical consequences for the region, the United States, Russia, and France issued repeated calls for a ceasefire; Azerbaijan did not even respect the agreement it signed. Thereafter, on the initiative of Russia and under its auspices, an agreement was signed between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia. Officials and political leaders in Armenia, Artsakh, and the Diaspora, as well as generally our people, have serious reservations about the aforementioned agreement, considering a number of ambiguous and vague provisions, which may harm the security and the independence of Armenia.
Based on the present circumstances, we wish to formulate a number of important remarks and reminders:
1) As we said, the present agreement calls for a serious reexamination, because beyond the context of the ceasefire it contains provisions that may compromise the foundations of Armenia’s statehood and its territorial integrity. Therefore, it is vital for the government of Armenia to pursue both the perfect implementation of the agreement and its major overhaul, displaying at the same time a more aggressive diplomacy and following with seriousness the negotiations of the Minsk Group.
2) During the war, a large number of families from Artsakh found refuge in Armenia. After the ceasefire, they need to return to Artsakh to rebuild their homes and workplaces, with the immediate help of the state. The physical presence and the demographic growth of the people of Artsakh have a vital importance in security and political terms.
3) The Armenian government must continue to make consistent efforts for the return of prisoners and the search of the lost soldiers, as well as provide care for the injured and compensation to the families of the soldiers who lost their lives.
4) The safe preservation of religious and cultural sites of Artsakh must be pursued within the context of the agreement signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as guaranteed by both the Minsk Group and UNESCO.
5) The international recognition of the Republic of Artsakh must be a priority. State and political structures and officials in Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora must carry out methodical work in this regard.
6) The reestablishment of Artsakh, in its economic, state, political and other facets, calls for an all-Armenian planning, participation, and dedication. Our nation is faced with a huge challenge. It is not possible to reestablish Artsakh with the customary plans and the usual work. Therefore, the all-Armenian input and power for the rebirth of Artsakh are more than mandatory. We believe the Diaspora has a key role within this context.
7) Finally, let us not forget that new geopolitical conditions have emerged in the Caucasus that are not favorable for Armenia and Artsakh. In view of this situation, a new strategy and new tactics must be developed; caution must prevail, and we must be realistic and unanimous, abstaining from actions that may cause internal commotion.
In view of the reminders and proposals we have made, we want to especially emphasize that in all circumstances:
- a) The self-determination right of the people of Artsakh must remain non-negotiable.
- b) The international recognition of the Republic of Artsakh must be a priority.
- c) The demographic growth of the people of Artsakh and the development of its economy must be a key issue in the all-Armenian agenda.
Based on these thoughts and expectations, we issue a fatherly call to our prelacies:
First, keep our collective will and responsibility alive in our people to reestablish Artsakh, by way of conferences, publications and different initiatives during 2021.
Second, make Artsakh—with its past, present and especially a vision for its future—a living presence, especially among the younger generation, with special events and prizes.
Third, within our immediate vicinity and especially in our rapports with international structures and circles emphasize the imperative of the self-rule of the people of Artsakh.
Fourth, promote the material support by wealthy fellow Armenians, businessmen and non-Armenians for the various plans in Artsakh as well as investments.
Why and how did we lose this imposed war in Artsakh? There are several interpretations about this and it is normal that there will be. The governments of Armenia and Artsakh need to offer a thorough and objective account of what happened to our people. We must not lose our hope; our will must not be weakened. We were defeated on the battlefield, but our nation and our homeland were not defeated and they never will. Let us remember the battle of Vartanantz; let us also remember the Armenian genocide and the will of our people to survive. With renewed faith and resolve, our people will continue its struggle. Azerbaijan and Turkey must know well that Artsakh is an inseparable part of the life of the Armenian people, that our people of Artsakh has the right to reestablish its independence, and that Artsakh remains the focus of the support of the entire Armenian people.
Dear Armenian sons and daughters, let us salute the brave Armenian army, pray for the souls of our martyred soldiers and the speedy return of our prisoners and lost soldiers. Let us provide practical support to our wounded and families in grief and in need. Let us pray for the security of Armenia and Artsakh for the wellbeing of our people. May the Creator and Lord of all of us protect our nation and our homeland.
With warm fatherly love,
CATHOLICOS ARAM I
GREAT HOUSE OF CILICIA
CATHOLICOS ARAM I URGES TO REJECT AGREEMENT, CALLS FOR UNITY
November 19, 2020 – In his recent pontifical address, delivered on November 14, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I appealed to the Armenian people to “refuse the document signed by Armenia and Azerbaijan through the mediation of Russia, which clearly goes beyond a ceasefire agreement, and is full of uncertainties and ambiguities, as well as fraught with dangerous ramifications, and repercussions.”
After exalting our brave army that valiantly defended the land of Artsakh, he added “the war has not ended; thus, it is essential to be united, prudent and realistic—to be able to overcome the current crisis-ridden and complex period.”
His Holiness also appealed to the citizens of Artsakh who have found refuge in Armenia to return home and reorganize their life. He emphasized “the imperative of international recognition of Artsakh—through the joint and organized efforts of Armenia and the Diaspora; and at this crucial juncture, to refrain from all personal interests and biased approaches, and consider the homeland’s common and supreme interests the driving force of our reflection and action.”
The Catholicos stated with firm determination that under no circumstances “the nation’s and homeland’s independence and safety, rights and dignity must be compromised by geopolitical interests and pan-Turkic projects.”
His Holiness highlighted the vital importance of examining “together issues of all-Armenian essence and scope.” At the same time, he underlined that “the will of the people must remain decisive in all circumstances, in all times and conditions—always guided by the principles and processes determined by the constitution.”
His Holiness concluded the pontifical address saying that “all of us, without exception, are accountable to the people and responsible before history. Armenianness and Armenia above all! Our lands and our sacred places above all! We must continue our struggle with this strong commitment.”
CATHOLICOS ARAM I: ARTSAKH MUST BE RECOGNIZED
With the immediate sponsorship of Turkey, and with the participation of terrorists and mercenaries, the war unleashed by Azerbaijan against Artsakh has put us before a new reality, with its military, political, legal and geopolitical aspects and consequences. Therefore, the present reality must push Artsakh and Armenia, as well as the international community, towards thinking and working in one direction: the recognition of the Republic of Artsakh. There is no alternative.
Anyone who has followed closely the latest developments of the Azerbaijan-Artsakh war, will see:
1. Azerbaijan enjoys the unreserved and total political and military alliance of Turkey and the specialized support of Israel.
2. The current war is not purely local; it has the potential to have major regional and international consequences.
3. Giving a new appearance and emphasis to its pan-Turanic and expansionist policy, along with its attempt to expand its influence from the Middle East and the Islamic world to the countries of Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, Turkey is trying to do the same in the Caucasus, using Azerbaijan for it.
The existing consensus between Russia, Turkey, and Iran in regards to Syria obviously push Russia and Iran to adopt a measured and cautious attitude towards the war incited by Turkey and carried out by Azerbaijan. Their cautious approach, however, cannot last long in the face of this urgent situation, full of serious dangers and grave consequences, when especially the geopolitical interests of Russia in the region begin to be compromised. Azerbaijan has always tried to reoccupy Artsakh militarily, opposing the international decisions for a political and negotiated solution for the Artsakh dispute. This new attempt by Azerbaijan, which was boosted by the pan-Turanic efforts, pursues these new goals.
The Armenian army continues to defend heroically Artsakh, our right and our dignity. We have shed blood, we have sustained terrible destruction and damages, we have faced enormous problems, but we continue to resist. Indeed, to face the Azerbaijani attacks, fueled by Turkey’s support and Israeli weapons, is a victory in itself. Alongside the army and Armenia and Artsakh’s diplomatic offensive, the widespread outreach effort, the organized protests and the demonstrations in support of Armenia throughout the Diaspora have mobilized our entire people.
The situation remains extremely complicated and fragile.
For thirty years, we have told the world that Artsakh is ours, we asserted our self-determination right at the price of blood and we directed our statements, our thoughts and our work towards the international recognition of the Republic of Artsakh.
In those years we also demonstrated wise caution, allowing political negotiations. The present war, however, came to show once again that Azerbaijan does not believe in negotiations and, enjoying the full support of Turkey, will not leave us in peace, it will make use of an attrition war and, moreover, it will be taken advantage of by Turkey to achieve bigger, future objectives.
We cannot sacrifice people every few years as well as sustain horrible material and economic damages. It is vital for us to define our strategic and defense policies, both in the short and the long terms, always with a realistic spirit and in accordance with the present geopolitical facts and circumstances.
First, it is fundamental to establish a ceasefire, at any price and immediately, and resume political negotiations.
Second, carry out methodical work for the international recognition of Artsakh. We cannot wait any longer. This goes against us, in every sense. We know that such a measure will bring with it new complications and that the international community may not be ready for it at this point. Nevertheless, there is no other alternative. What can be worse than the current war, when Azerbaijan even ignores the principles of international law that apply to wars and ceasefires?
Third, the role of Russia is key for the solution of any issue related to Artsakh. The slow and cautious reaction by Russia may invite different interpretations. Nevertheless, whatever the strategic approaches and calculations of Russia may be at the moment, Russia will never allow the presence of another power next to it in the Caucasus. With this conviction in mind, our cooperation with Russia must be based on mutual trust and common interests.
Fourth, the vitally, politically and legally important initiative of ensuring Artsakh requires a lot of preparation, a lot of outreach and diplomatic activity, and consistent work, which we must begin immediately. International law contemplates different ways, circumstances and requirements for recognition. We must study comprehensively and in detail all the issues and concrete circumstances for recognition.
We find ourselves before an existential crossroads in our history. Military success is the key, and the pro-Armenian sentiment of the international community is the driving force of our success. We need to be wise and cautious and always united.
We therefore urge the honorable Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, to invite, right after the consolidation of the ceasefire, the heads of the political parties in Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora, the spiritual leaders, as well as the highest officials of Armenia and Artsakh, to discuss the present situation and the following steps. On the one hand, such a meeting will show to foreigners our united and firm stance and, on the other, it will offer the opportunity for the exchange of viewpoints and approaches. We also propose that, following such a meeting, a committee of experts be formed under the leadership of the Prime Minister to steer the recognition work in its legal, diplomatic, political and communicational dimensions.
Catholicos Aram I
October 13, 2020
CATHOLICOS ARAM I: WE ARE ALL THE ARMENIAN ARMY
His Holiness Catholicos Aram I has spoken with the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to express his full support to the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia. “When the homeland is in danger, the entire Armenian nation becomes the Armenian army,” His Holiness said. “Our history testifies to that and that is the lesson of our history.”
He urged every Armenian to support our homeland’s war effort.
“We appeal to the sons and daughters of our nation to show in different their total support to the homeland and to the Armenian army.” Catholicos Aram I said that the Armenian army “continues to repel the Azerbaijani attacks with firm resolve.”
The Catholicos said that in “this critical moment” the expressions of support by Armenians in the homeland and the Diaspora cannot be limited to “sentimental manifestations.” His Holiness said that it was necessary for every Armenian to follow their heart and “driven by their unbreakable conviction, bring their practical help for further strengthening the Armenian army.”
Aram I said that he is in permanent touch with the governments of Armenia and Artsakh as well as with His Holiness Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II. He urged every Armenian to heed the levy declared in the homeland, “considering themselves soldiers for the defense of Armenia and Artsakh.” His Holiness also called on every prelacy, organization, family and individual to send their aid through the All Armenia Fund. “We warmly encourage you to remember in your prayers our soldiers, who are ready to sacrifice for the defense of the homeland and the eternity of the Armenian people,” the Catholicos said. “We implore God Most High to heal quickly our wounded soldiers and sons and daughters of the Armenian nation, may He illuminate the souls of the martyred soldiers and may He keep and safeguard Artsakh, Armenia and our entire nation under his heavenly protection.”
RECONSTRUCTION COMMITTEE HAS BEGUN WORK IN BEIRUT
The Lebanese Armenian Community Reconstruction Committee, presided by Archbishop Shahe Panossian, Prelate of the Armenian Church of Lebanon, held its second meeting on Wednesday, August 12, during which it determined the next steps, two weeks after the deadly blast in the port of Beirut.
The meeting was attended by representatives of community organizations, including Karnig Mgrditchian, of the Armenian Apostolic community; Aram Karadaghlian, of the Armenian Catholic community; Nerses Baghdoyan, of the Armenian Evangelical community; Hagop Havatian, of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation; Vanig Dakessian, of the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party; Silva Libarian, of the Armenian General Benevolent Union; Nazely Avakian, of the Armenian Relief Cross of Lebanon, and Aram Malian, of the Armenian Educational Benevolent Union.
In its first meeting, the committee elected Karnig Mgrditchian chairman; Nazeli Avakian, secretary, and Aram Malian, treasurer.
Upon the priorities determined by Catholicos Aram I, preference will be given during the reconstruction efforts to damaged homes, shops and other buildings, which will be done under the supervision of experts. The committee will also ensure that donations be made through its own channels and evenly distributed among the needy of our people.The Committee has set up its offices in a specially allocated space in the former building of the Forty Holy Martyrs School.
“THE ARMENIAN COMMUNITY WILL SURVIVE THE SEVERE DAMAGE WITH STRONG DETERMINATION AND THE SOLIDARITY OF PEOPLE OF GOODWILL”HIS HOLINESS ARAM I
The devastating blast of 4 August 2020 at the Beirut port put Lebanon once more on the front pages of the global media. The citizens are outraged but count on the support of the international community. Coming on the heels of the Covid-19 pandemic and the mishandling of the economy by the country’s corrupt leadership, this tragedy has compounded the suffering of the people. The Armenian community, which is one of the largest communities in Lebanon, has suffered extensive damage because of its location. Historically, the community is concentrated in the coastal area of Beirut, from the port to the northern neighbourhood of Dora. The region includes churches, schools, community centres, small businesses and residences. The neighbourhood has always been open to all communities irrespective of confessional background.
Immediately after the explosions, His Holiness Aram I visited the neighbourhood with members of the municipality and talked to the people. No structure in the neighborhood is unharmed. Windows and doors have been blown apart. Most of the homes are inhabitable, and businesses have been destroyed. So far 13 persons in the community are known to have died, 300 persons have been injured, and 1000 families are left homeless. The community has not yet had time to assess the safety of the buildings, nor the ability of social centres to operate or businesses to resume functioning. At the compound of the Catholicosate of Cilicia in Antelias, which is directly exposed to the port, the Cathedral, museum, and all other buildings have suffered extensive damage. Even the Bird’s Nest orphanage school in Byblos, which is 37 kms away from Beirut, has been damaged. The community proposes to establish an emergency committee to help recover and facilitate the rehabilitation of the people. The committee will consist of representatives from the Armenian Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant communities, Armenian political parties, and humanitarian organizations. It will operate under the leadership of His Holiness Aram I. In view of the extensive damage, His Holiness Aram I appeals to all members of the Armenian community, the wider ecumenical partners, and civil society to assist the community rebuild what has been ruined and in this way to help empower Lebanese citizens.
We very much appreciate if all donations and contributions for the rebuilding of the Armenian community are sent to the following special account in Geneva, Switzerland Beneficiary:
ARMENIA CATHOLICOSATE OF CILICIA
Bank: Bank pictet & Cie SA, Route des Acacias 60, CH-1211 Geneva 73
IBAN: CH61 08755 0502 0390 0300
SWIFT Code: PICTCHGG
CATHOLICOS ARAM’S APPEAL The Armenian Community of Lebanon Will Be Rebuilt With the Support of Every Armenian With this profound and firm oath, we salute our people.
Lebanon is facing serious challenges. In the last few months, the dire conditions created by the coronavirus pandemic were followed by a financial crisis. Naturally, the Armenian community, among the main ones that make up the Lebanese population, was also exposed to the consequences of the aforementioned crises. Despite the difficult situation for the Lebanese Armenians in the financial, educational, social and other fields, our religious and community organizations did everything within their possibilities, with a high sense of responsibility, to help our community. However, the terrible explosion that happened on Tuesday in the port of Beirut further aggravated the difficulties that Lebanon as well as our community face. Indeed, as soon as we heard the blast we headed for the Armenian neighborhoods and witnessed the desperate situation: destroyed or heavily damaged churches, community centers, shops and, more tragically, the dead and many injured people. The scale and nature of the destruction were unprecedented in the history of Lebanon. Yesterday [Tuesday, August 4] and today we had meetings with community officials to learn in more detail about the state of the injured and the material damages. We received telephone calls from our high-ranking state, religious and political officials. Hence, taking into account the central place of the Lebanese Armenians in the context of the Armenian world and, especially, the Diaspora, we consider the reconstruction of this important community to be urgent and imperative. The restoration of the destroyed or damaged homes is urgent. We have to provide for the health of our community members, who are exposed to the coronavirus pandemic. The support of our educational organizations is imperative. The help of our community, religious, cultural, beneficent and other organizations is vital. We must consider the reconstruction work of our community from a comprehensive perspective.In this regard, we want to emphasize especially the following points: 1) The reconstruction of the Lebanese Armenian community must be carried out as an all-Armenian effort, with the active participation of the homeland, the Diaspora and, in general, the sons and daughters of our nation. The crisis is big. Therefore, our response must be proportionate, organized and consequent. 2) The assistance to be provided to the Lebanese Armenians will include every member of our community without any restrictions. 3) A committee will be set up under the chairmanship of the Armenian Prelate of Lebanon, with the participation of the three denominations, the three political parties and the three charities to organize the reconstruction work. 4) According to the priorities, the committee will determine the magnitude of aid and the timeline to provide relief for the following endeavors: renovation of homes and community centers; healthcare plans, and educational aid. 5) An account has been opened in Geneva (Switzerland) for donations in support of the Armenian community of Lebanon: All donations will be transferred via the Catholicosate to the special committee functioning under the sponsorship of the Armenian Prelacy of Lebanon Every donation must be posted to this account so that they can be forwarded through the Catholicosate to the aforementioned committee operating under the supervision of the Prelacy. As the apostle says, if one member suffers, all suffer together with it (1 Corinthians 12:26). The pain of the Lebanese Armenians is the pain of the entire Armenian people. Today the sons and daughters of the Armenian nation are called to support the Armenians of Lebanon, not only to mitigate its pain, but also to enable it to continue its mission to serve the entire Armenian nation with renewed vitality and devotion. With this expectation and Patriarchal blessings we salute the dear sons and daughters of our people and pray to the Most High God that the life of our people may bloom thanks to His heavenly munificence.
August 5, 2020
Catholicos Aram I
Great House of CiliciaAntelias, Lebanon
12 October 2019
At the conclusion of the renovations of St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I of the Armenian Church, Holy See of Cilicia presided over the blessing of the Mother Cathedral celebrated with singing of hymns, psalms and prayers. Note that the renovations were possible thanks to the generous #donation of Mr. and Mrs. Hovsep and Elizabeth Boyadjian.
Անցնող երկու ամիսներու ընթացքին, Անթիլիասի Մայրավանքի Ս. Գրիգոր Լուսաւորիչ Մայր Տաճարին մէջ տեղի ունեցան վերանորոգման աշխատանքներ, բարձր հովանաւորութեամբ Ս. Աթոռոյս Գահակալ Ն.Ս.Օ.Տ.Տ. Արամ Ա. Կաթողիկոսին եւ ազնիւ բարերարութեամբ Ամերիկայի հիւսիսային արեւմտեան հայոց թեմի ազգայիններէն Տէր եւ Տիկ. Յովսէփ եւ Էլիզապէթ Պոյաճեան ամոլին։
Արդարեւ, վերանորոգման աշխատանքներու աւարտին, Շաբաթ, 12 Հոկտեմբեր 2019-ի երեկոյեան, միաբան հայրերէ կազմուած Հայրապետական թափօրը, նախագահութեամբ Վեհափառ Հայրապետին, շարականներու երգեցողութեամբ եւ սաղմոսներու ու աղօթքներու արտասանութեամբ ուղղուեցաւ Մայր Տաճար, ուր տեղի ունեցաւ եկեղեցւոյ օրհնութեան յատուկ կարգ։ Արարողութեան աւարտին, Նորին Սրբութիւնը «Լուսաւորեա Երուսաղէմ» շարականի երգեցողութեամբ բարձրացաւ Ս. Խորան եւ վառեց Քրիստոսի լոյսը խորհրդանշող աշտանակները։ Ապա, տեղի ունեցաւ Կիրակմուտքի ժամերգութիւն։
Յայտնենք, որ Արամ Ա. Վեհափառ Հայրապետին գահակալութեան շուրջ 25 տարիներու ընթացքին երրորդ անգամ ըլլալով Մայր Տաճարը կ՚ենթարկուի ամբողջական վերանորոգման՝ բնականաբար յաճախակի առիթներով կատարուած բարեզարդման որոշ աշխատանքներու առընթեր։
Ն.Ս.Օ.Տ.Տ. ԱՐԱՄ Ա. ԿԱԹՈՂԻԿՈՍԻՆ Ս. ԶԱՏԿՈՒԱՆ ՊԱՏԳԱՄԸ ՔՐԻՍՏՈՍԻ ՅԱՐՈՒԹԻՒՆԸ ՀՐԱՒԷՐ ՝ ՄԱՀԷՆ ԴԷՊԻ ԿԵԱՆՔ ԸՆԹԱՆԱԼՈՒ
Պօղոս Առաքեալ, Եփեսոսի քրիստոնեաներուն ուղղած իր նամակին մէջ կ’ըսէ, թէ Աստուած «մեզ վերստին կեանքի կոչեց Քրիստոսով» (2.5)։ Առաքեալին այլ նամակներուն մէջ եւս շեշտուած յիշեալ հաստատումը, նպատակը կը կազմէ Աստուծոյ Որդւոյն առաքելութեան, եւ հետեւաբար, առանցքը՝ քրիստոնէական հաւատքին։
«Մահ»ը աստուածաշնչական հասկացողութեամբ սոսկ ֆիզիքական գոյութեան վախճանը չէ. այլ Աստուծմէ հեռացում է, մեղքերու տիրապետութեան ենթակայ ըլլալ է։ «Կեանք»ը Աստուծոյ ներկայութիւնն է, մարդուն հաւատարմութիւնն է իր Երկնաւոր Հօր։ Քրիստոս իր երկրաւոր առաքելութեան սկիզբը ըսաւ «ես եկայ որպէսզի կեանք ունենաք» (Յհ 10.10)։ Աստուած իր Որդւոյն, Քրիստոսի ճամբով իրագործեց իր փրկագործական ծրագիրը՝ մարդուն վերստին կեանք պարգեւելով։ Ա՛յս հայեցակէտով հարկ է մօտենալ Աստուծոյ Որդւոյն մարդեղութեան, ինչպէս նաեւ երկրաւոր առաքելութիւնը կազմող դէպքերուն, հրաշքներուն եւ ուսուցումներուն։ Խաչով կերտուած յարութիւնը դարձաւ գագաթնակէտը՝ մարդուն վերստին կեանք շնորհելու Քրիստոսի փրկագործական առաքելութեան։
Աստուածաշունչին վրայ հիմնուած քրիստոնէական հաւատքը կը յիշեցնէ մեզի, թէ.- Քրիստոսի յարութեամբ ազատագրուեցանք մեղքի կապանքէն։ Մեղանչած էր մարդը Աստուծոյ պատուիրաններուն դէմ եւ դաւաճանած իր աստուածատուր կոչումին։ Մարդուն պատճառաւ ապականած էր նաեւ իր խնամքին յանձնուած ստեղծագործութիւնը։ Ինչպէս Առաքեալը կը վկայէ՝ «Քրիստոսի արիւնով մեր մեղքերուն թողութիւն գտանք» (Եփ 1.7)։ Խաչին վրայ թափած իր արիւնով Աստուծոյ Որդին սրբեց մարդուն մեղքը։ Խաչ բարձրանալով Քրիստոս մարդը ազատագրեց իր մեղքէն ու առաջնորդեց դէպի յաւիտենական կեանք։
Քրիստոսի յարութեամբ Աստուծոյ որդեգիր զաւակները դառնալու երկնային շնորհքին արժանացանք։ Աստուծոյ գործակից ըլլալու կոչուած մարդը դարձած էր սատանային գործակից։ Երկնային շնորհներով զարդարուելու պատիւին արժանացած մարդը, իր ազատ կամքով դարձած էր երկրաւոր մոլութիւններու գերին։ Այլ խօսքով, մարդը ուրացած էր իր Երկնաւոր Հայրը եւ դարձած անառակ։ Քրիստոսի յարութեամբ մեղքի ու մահուան տիղմին մէջ թաղուած մարդը յարութեան յոյսով կեանքը ապրելու աստուածային հրաւէր ստացաւ։
Քրիստոսի յարութեամբ փրկութեան ժառանգորդ ըլլալու երկնային պարգեւին արժանացանք։ Մարդը հեռացած էր Աստուծմէ, արարածը՝ Արարիչէն, զաւակը՝ Հօրմէն։ Մերժած էր մարդը երկնատուր արժէքները ու ճշմարտութիւնները, եւ հիմնած՝ իր արժէքներու համակարգը, իր իշխանութիւնը։ Մահուան անդունդին մէջ գտնուող մարդուն փրկութիւն բերելու համար աշխարհ եկած Աստուծոյ Որդին իր հրաշափառ յարութեամբ մարդուն առջեւ բացաւ դէպի յարուցեալ կեանք առաջնորդող ճամբան։
Աւետարանի վկայութեան համաձայն, Քրիստոսի մարդեղութեամբ սկսած ու յարութեամբ պսակուած աստուածային փրկագործական ծրագրի իրագործումը իր ամբողջական լրումին պիտի հասնի Քրիստոսի երկրորդ գալուստով, երբ Քրիստոս պիտի ոչնչացնէ երկրի «չար իշխանութիւնները, պետութիւնները եւ զօրութիւնները» եւ «վերջին թշնամին որ պիտի բնաջնջուի մահը պիտի ըլլայ» (Ա.Կր 15.25-26)։
Քրիստոսի յարութիւնը երաշխիք է ու միանգամայն հրաւէր, որպէս Աստուծոյ որդեգիր զաւակներ ընթանալու՝
մեղքի ճանապարհէն դէպի փրկութեան ճանապարհ.
մահուան անդունդէն դէպի կեանքի հովիտը.
Գողգոթայի տառապանքէն դէպի յարութեան յաղթանակ։
Աստուած մեզի չարին, մեղքին ու մահուան դէմ յաղթանակ պարգեւեց Քրիստոսի յարութեամբ։ Քրիստոս յարութիւն առաւ, որպէսզի «մենք նորոգուած կեանքով ապրինք» (Հռ 6.4)։
Արդ, հաւատքո՛վ ապրինք, որովհետեւ Քրիստոսով հաշտուած ենք Աստուծոյ հետ։ Յոյսո՛վ ապրինք, որովհետեւ Քրիստոսի յարութեան մասնակից դառնալու շնորհքին արժանացած ենք։
Քրիստոսո՛վ ապրինք, որովհետեւ Քրիստոսի յարութեամբ վերանորոգուած կեանք ժառանգած ենք։
Ահա՛, ժողովուրդ հայոց, պատգամը Քրիստոսի հրաշափառ յարութեան։ * * *
Մեր Տիրոջ Յիսուս Քրիստոսի Յարութեան տօնին առիթով, Հայրապետական օրհնութեամբ եւ քրիստոնէական ջերմ սիրով կ’ողջունենք Հայաստանի Հանրապետութեան Վսեմաշուք Նախագահ Արմէն Սարգիսեանը ու Վսեմաշուք Վարչապետ Նիկոլ Փաշինեանը, ինչպէս նաեւ Արցախի Հանրապետութեան Վսեմաշուք նախագահ Բակօ Սահակեանը, մաղթելով իրենց նորանոր իրագործումներով լեցուն հայրենանուէր ծառայութիւն։
Եղբայրական ջերմ սիրով կ’ողջունենք Ն.Ս.Օ.Տ.Տ. Գարեգին Բ. Ամենայն Հայոց Կաթողիկոսը, մաղթելով եկեղեցաշէն ծառայութեամբ հարուստ երկար գահակալութիւն։ Կ’ողջունենք նաեւ Երուսաղէմի Հայոց Պատրիարք Ամենապատիւ Տ. Նուրհան Արք. Մանուկեանը եւ Կոստանդնուպոլսոյ Հայոց Պատրիարքական Ընդհանուր Փոխանորդ Բարձրաշնորհ Տ. Արամ Արք. Աթէշեանը, մաղթելով իրենց բեղմնաւոր ծառայութիւն հայ եկեղեցւոյ անդաստանէն ներս։
Հայրապետական օրհնութեամբ ու հայրական սիրով կ’ողջունենք Մեծի Տանն Կիլիկիոյ Կաթողիկոսութեան Թեմակալ Առաջնորդները, հոգեւոր դասը, Ազգային իշխանութիւնները, մեր ժողովուրդի կեանքին մէջ գործող կազմակերպութիւններն ու միութիւնները եւ մեր հաւատացեալ ժողովուրդը, հայցելով Աստուծմէ, որ մեր ժողովուրդին սիրելի զաւակները Յարուցեալ Փրկչին յաղթանակով զօրացած ապրին իրենց կեանքը հաստատ մնալով իրենց քրիստոնէական հաւատքին մէջ, եւ հաւատարիմ՝ մեր ազգին հոգեւոր, բարոյական ու ազգային արժէքներուն։ Քրիստոս յարեաւ ի մեռելոց, Օրհնեալ է յարութիւնն Քրիստոսի։
ԱՐԱՄ Ա. ԿԱԹՈՂԻԿՈՍ
ՄԵԾԻ ՏԱՆՆ ԿԻԼԻԿԻՈՅ
21 Ապրիլ 2019
ԵՐԻՏԱՍԱՐԴԱԿԱՆ ԽՈՐՀՐԴԱԺՈՂՈՎ ԱՆԹԻԼԻԱՍԻ ՄԱՅՐԱՎԱՆՔԻՆ ՄԷՋ
Youth Assembly Convenes in Antelias
18 February 2019
16 եւ 17 Փետրուար 2019-ին, Անթիլիասի Մայրավանք հաւաքուած էին սփիւռքի զանազան երկիրներէ ժամանած երիտասարդներ, որոնք գումարեցին հինգ նիստերէ բաղկացած խորհրդաժողով մը՝ արծարծելով երիտասարդութիւնը յուզող այժմէական խնդիրներ ու քննարկելով զանոնք դիմագրաւելու գործնական միջոցներու մասին։
Խորհրդաժողովին ատենապետեց Գերշ. Տ. Մեսրոպ Եպս. Սարգիսեանը, իսկ վարեցին Հոգշ. Տ. Պետրոս Վրդ. Մանուէլեանն ու Հոգշ. Տ. Զարեհ Վրդ. Սարգիսեանը։
Բացման նիստին իր պատգամը փոխանցեց Նորին Սրբութիւնը։ Ան առաջին հերթին բարի գալուստ մաղթեց Հիւսիսային Ամերիկայէն, Եւրոպայէն, Միջին Արեւելքէն եւ Հայաստանէն Անթիլիաս ժամանած երիտասարդներուն՝ ընդգծելով բոլոր բնագաւառներուն մէջ Կիլիկիոյ Ս. Աթոռին գործօն ներկայութիւնն ու գործնական ձեռնարկութիւնները։ Ան դիտել տուաւ, որ այս հաւաքը կը միտի գործնական քայլերու վերածել երիտասարդը հաւաքական կեանքին մէջ ներառելու ու անոր առանցքային տեղ տալու առումով երիտասարդներու կողմէ եկած առաջարկները։ «Երբ շուրջս կը նայիմ, կը տեսնեմ երիտասարդներ, սակայն ոչ մայր էջին վրայ։ Անոնք երբեմն հեռացած են, իսկ երբեմն ալ անտեսուած են մեր շրջանակներէն, ու այս պատճառով ալ յաճախ դժուարութիւն կը գտնեն դրսեւորելու իրենց ինքնութիւնը», ըսաւ Վեհափառը՝ կարեւորելով անոնց նախաձեռնողի եւ ոչ՝ հակազդեցողի դիրքի վրայ ըլլալը։ Առ այդ, Հայրապետը իր պատգամին մէջ լայն տեղ տուաւ առցանց աշխարհին եւ անոր հետեւանքներուն։ Ան նշեց, որ առցանց աշխարհին վրայ ստեղծուած յարաբերութիւններէն յառաջացած համացանցային ընկերութիւնը ունի իր արժէքներու համակարգը, սակայն հարկ է անգամ մը մտածել թէ հայ երիտասարդը, որ կը պատկանի տուեալ առցանց ընկերութեան, ի՛նչ հայկական ինքնութիւն կը դրսեւորէ, ի՛նչ տեսալական ու նպատակ կը հետապնդէ, որպէսզի աւելի կազմակերպուած ըլլայ ու կարենայ թէ՛ օգտուիլ անկէ եւ թէ ալ օգտել հայութիւնը։ Այս իմաստով ան լուսարձակի տակ առաւ պատասխանատու կեցուածք ունեցող ու պարտաւորութիւններ ստանձնող երիտասարդ մարդուժի անհրաժեշտութիւնը, որ պիտի չկլանուի համացանցի ժխտական ազդեցութիւններէն։
Նիստի աւարտին, երիտասարդները փոխանակեցին իրենց մտքերն ու մտահոգութիւնները։
Յաջորդող նիստերուն ընթացքին, խորհրդաժողովը քննեց հայ երիտասարդները առցանց հարթակի մը վրայ խմբելու կարելիութիւններն ու անկէ բխած հարցերն ու լուծումները։
His Holiness Aram I proclaims 2019 the “Year of the Armenian Media”
His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia, has named 2019 as “The Year of the Armenian Press.” His Holiness writes that after a recent meeting with representatives of the Armenian Press in Lebanon, he deemed it appropriate to declare 2019 in honor of the Armenian Press. While acknowledging that the “Press” in modern times has a more expansive definition, the Catholicos emphasizes that he is speaking primarily about the print media that includes daily, weekly, and monthly newspapers and magazines. His Holiness gives an overview of the very earliest modes of print communication, and then focuses specifically on the very first Armenian newspaper (in India) and the subsequent growth of the Armenian Press in all parts of the world.
His Holiness directs the dioceses under the jurisdiction of the Cilician See to take this opportunity and during 2019 feature the history and role of the Armenian Press through various events including seminars, conferences, lectures, exhibits, and publication of books that focus on the importance of the Armenian Press in the life of the Armenian people.
Ն.Ս.Օ.Տ.Տ. ԱՐԱՄ Ա. ԿԱԹՈՂԻԿՈՍ 2019 ՏԱՐԻՆ ԿԸ ՀՌՉԱԿԷ
ՀԱՅ ՄԱՄՈՒԼԻ ՏԱՐԻ
18 December 2018
Ն.Ս.Օ.Տ.Տ. Արամ Ա. Կաթողիկոս Հայրապետական յատուկ պատգամով 2019 տարին կը հռչակէ «ՀԱՅ ՄԱՄՈՒԼԻ ՏԱՐԻ»։
Արդարեւ, 2003-էն սկսեալ, իւրաքանչիւր տարի մեր եկեղեցւոյ ու ժողովուրդի կեանքին հետ սերտ աղերս ունեցող երեւոյթի մը կամ արժէքի մը նուիրելու Վեհափառ Հայրապետին որոշումը մեր ժողովուրդին մօտ լայն արձագանգ գտաւ. ան առիթ հանդիսացաւ տուեալ տարուան նիւթին մասին խօսելու, գրելու, քննարկումներ կատարելու, եւ զանազան այլ միջոցներով զայն մեր անձնական թէ համայնական կեանքի լուսարձակին տակ բերելու։
Նկատի ունենալով հայ մամուլին առանցքային դերը մեր ազգային կեանքէն ներս, վստահ ենք, որ նո՛յն լրջութեամբ եւ զանազան նախաձեռնութիւններու ճամբով վերարժեւորումի պիտի ենթարկուի հայ մամուլին դերը ու մանաւանդ՝ դիմագրաւած մարտահրաւէրները։ Վեհափառ Հայրապետին 2019-ն «Հայ Մամուլի Տարի» հռչակման պատգամը պիտի ընթերցուի եկեղեցիներէն ներս, 2019-ի Յունուարի կէսերուն, եւ բնականաբար, լոյս պիտի տեսնէ հայ մամուլի մէջ։
Յայտնենք, որ Վեհափառ Հայրապետին նախաձեռնութեամբ հայ մամուլին նուիրուած համահայկական համագումար մը տեղի պիտի ունենայ 2019 Ապրիլին Անթիլիասի Մայրավանքէն ներս։
Վեհափառ Հայրապետին պատգամը ամբողջութեամբ կարդալու համար սեղմել 2019 Հայ Մամուլի Տարի կապը։