Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin – October 2016
On October 18, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; met with the Accredited Heads of Diplomatic Missions to the Republic of Armenia. As part of the program “Ambassadors Without Borders”, the meeting was held in the Yerevan residence of the Lebanese Ambassador.
Mr. Jean Makaron, the Lebanese Ambassador to the Republic of Armenia and the initiator of the program welcomed the attendees. He expressed his gratitude to the Catholicos of All Armenians for accepting his invitation, and participating in the program with a discussion titled “The Armenian Apostolic Church’s Mission in the Past and at Present”.
The Catholicos of All Armenians welcomed the Ambassadors and representatives of diplomatic missions, expressing his appreciation to the Ambassador of Lebanon for organizing a beautiful meeting.
During the discussion, His Holiness reflected on the establishment and centuries-old service of the Armenian Apostolic Church, also speaking about her important role in the preservation of the national identity.
“The mission of the Armenian Church extends between the borders of the centuries-old history of the Armenian people, and the path opened through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. She has suffered together with her people and been martyred with her children, always keeping bright the life-giving hope of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the mission of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church, which developed and is still ongoing from history through the Resurrection until today. From the Golgotha cross- drawn with the traces of blood of Jesus Christ, it reaches to the Holy Sepulcher, resurrected and renewed again by the triumphant example of the Lord.
It is because of this Christ like identification with the nation and people that even in the 5th century it was considered a National Church. That idea pushed her throughout history, as a “Covenant of Brotherhood”, as stated by Yeghishe in “History of Vardan and the Armenian War”, to shape the national and spiritual identity. This is an important factor of the mission of the past, when the Church shapes the identity of the nation, based on Christian human values and notable spiritual and cultural achievements. Identity, which is aptly expressed by our 5th century historian Yeghishe, describing it as “the color of our skin “. This National-Christian identity is the axis of the mission of the Armenian Church in the life of the Armenian people. It is hard to imagine in what type of situations and circumstances the Armenian existence would develop if he didn’t identify himself with the witness of Jesus Christ through his sense of identity. How would he overcome the disasters of history and time, one of the greatest tragedies of humanity- the Armenian Genocide and the 70 years of persecution of the Soviet totalitarian dictatorship.
Through prayers to God and with satisfaction, today we note that due to an identity based on Christian faith and doctrine, the Armenian people today, also survived as a predominantly faithful Christian nation. Although the Armenian nation was deprived of her homeland and 1.5 million of her children after the Armenian Genocide in 1915, and scattered to various places and corners of the world. Faithful to their boundless devotion of following Jesus Christ, and even under those stressful conditions, they created a strong united Christian spiritual-national body, which today we call the Diaspora. The spiritual homeland is connected to his homeland- the Republic of Armenia, through invisible and unbreakable, numerous and countless threads. In other words, today Armenia and Diaspora are the two pure eyes of the Armenian Church, through which he can see and clarify the national-social issues and their solutions”, stated His Holiness.
Speaking on the present-day aim, His Holiness mentioned that the Armenian Church is implementing improvements in the social life with new inspiration and enthusiasm. “You understand the devastating earthquake, the Karabakh conflict and the blockade of the country had a negative impact on the country’s socio-economic life. From the first days of the independence, through her active participation, the Armenian Church undertook finding the solution to problems resulting from the above-mentioned phenomena. Today the Armenian Church has an active presence in various segments of Armenian society: The Armed Forces, health, education and science, culture and the Armenian identity. In this sense, the Church puts more efforts to fix and maintain the spiritual and moral values in society. We consider it important to record the mission of the Armenian Church in the field of religious education and upbringing, giving an identity and necessary cognitive knowledge about the Armenian Church to the young generation of Armenian Christians. The Mother See has a Social Service Office, which aids and support to nearly 20,000 people”, stated His Holiness.
His Holiness also referred to one of the important activities of the Church, the ecumenical and interreligious relations, directed at the friendship between people, cooperation and strengthening of the spirit of peaceful coexistence. His Holiness attested with satisfaction that the accredited diplomatic institutions in the RA and the ambassadors, personally contribute to those relations and the strengthening of mutual ties. His Holiness expressed gratitude to them for their effective cooperation with the Mother See and ecclesiastical institutions.
At the conclusion, the Catholicos of All Armenians wished the Ambassadors success and new achievements in their responsible diplomatic missions.
His Holiness also answered the Ambassadors’ questions which related to Church programs directed at poverty eradication; ways of resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict; the peacemaking efforts of the Armenian Church; interchurch relations and the situation in the Middle East.
The Catholicos of All Armenians was accompanied by His Eminence Archbishop Nathan Hovhannisyan, Director of the External Relations and Protocol Department of the Mother See; Rev. Fr. Karekin Hambardzumyan, Dean of the Gevorkian Theological Seminary; Rev. Fr. Aghan Yernjakyan, and Prof. Dr. Armen Charchyan, Director of the Izmirlian Medical Center.