Ecumenical Delegations Meet at the Mother See

On September 26, under the presidency of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; an Ecumenical meeting was held in the Auditorium of the Gevorkian Theological Seminary of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, with the participation of 39 heads and representatives of Christian Churches who traveled to Armenia on the occasion of the Blessing of the Holy Muron. His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Martirosyan, representing  His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia; His Eminence Archbishop Aram Ateshyan, Vicar of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople; Bishops of the Mother See; Diocesan Primates of the Armenian Church and members of the Brotherhoods of the Mother See and the Hierarchical Sees were in attendance.

Attending the Ecumenical meeting from the Christian churches and organizations were delegations and representatives of the Coptic Orthodox Church; Syrian Orthodox Church; Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church; Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East; Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria; Russian Orthodox Church; Serbian Orthodox Church; Romanian Orthodox Church; Orthodox Church of Cyprus; Czech Orthodox Church; Albanian Orthodox Church; Roman Catholic Church; Greek Catholic Church; Syrian Catholic Church; Armenian Catholic Church; Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland; Community of Sant’Egidio and the World Council of Churches.

The meeting began with the prayers of His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa, followed by His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, who chaired the meeting. In his welcoming remarks, His Eminence reflected on the significance of the Holy Muron in the lives of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church and the Armenian people, as well as to the support provided by Christian Churches to the Armenian nation in the year of the 100th commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.

His Holiness Karekin II, conveyed his Pontifical greeting to the clergymen who had gatered in the Mother See from different parts of the world.

“Dear spiritual brothers in Christ,

It is our great pleasure to greet you all – heads and representatives of sister Churches, and primates of our Church – in the sacred spiritual center of all Armenians – the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. Your prayerful participation in the great national feast of the blessing of the Holy Chrism provides solidarity to our Holy Church and Christ-loving people, who offer their prayer of thanksgiving up to Almighty God with the words of the psalmist, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1. On this soul-stirring occasion, we convey our warm fraternal love and best wishes to the heads and leaders of the great family of Christian Churches, praying for the eternal splendor of the Holy Church of Christ.

Dear ones, tomorrow the Holy Armenian Church, as a member of the universal and sacramental body of Christ, will once again sanctify one of the greatest mysteries of our Christian faith – by blessing the Holy Chrism. As a symbol of the unity and indivisibility of the Armenian Church, the Holy Chrism, following its blessing, will be dispersed throughout the world, where as a result of the Armenian Genocide, our people having found themselves on the paths of exile and in search of peaceful shores,

found shelter and often prayed and received nourishment for their souls in their second homelands alongside their Christian brothers and sisters, keeping unshaken their faith and Christian identity as the faithful children of the Armenian Church. The Armenian Church, during those bitter and dire years found refuge in the inexhaustible strength and power of the united and mystical body of Christ.

In these sacred days as well, we pray together with our Christian brothers and sisters, so that the graces of the Holy Spirit, by flowing incessantly through the Holy Chrism, adorn all of us with the cherished graces of Christian faith and virtues. In the world today, in the life of humankind, on the difficult path of keeping the God-granted commandments and Christian values, it is necessary more than ever for a new Pentecost, in the examples of the Holy Apostles – a new Upper Room in which to gather. We offer glory and thanks to God, that in this present century, Christians understand and – with deep comprehension – accept the divine commandments of Christian brotherhood and reciprocal love.

The blessing of the Holy Chrism is yet another opportunity and example, by which your fraternal love for the Armenian people and Armenian Church is concretely expressed. As part of the events commemorating the Armenian Genocide, the blessing of the Holy Chrism has a place of great importance – it reminds us of the necessity for spiritual rebirth. A rebirth – where the Holy Tradition inherited from our forefathers mixes and unites with the vision of the Christian faith of new generations, the glorious pages of Church history with the path of the Christian mission of the future – all for the glory of the Holy Church of Christ.

Indeed, there is no greater, true or tangible reality, than the unified prayer and convocation of the bearers of different ecclesiastical traditions around the holy altar of our Lord. We pray to our Most High God, for the Lord to strengthen His Holy Church, grant us the true spirit to recognize love and unity, as He exhorted us prior to His crucifixion, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” John 15:9.

May the love and grace of our Lord be with us all; may the Holy Spirit bless all of us with His generous graces, to carry out His all-holy will, for the glory of the Holy Trinity and the vibrancy of the Holy Church of Christ. Amen”.

Following the remarks of His Holiness, remarks were made by: His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa; His Grace Cosman Bishop of North Sinai from the Coptic Orthodox Church; His Eminence Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches from the Catholic Church; His Eminence Mor Clemis Daniel Kourieh, Metropolitan of Beirut from the Syrian Orthodox Church; Theodosius, Metropolitan of Tambov and Rasskazovsky Russian Orthodox Church, representative of Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow and All Russia; Mitropolitul Ardealului Laurentiu Streza from the Romanian Orthodox Church; His Grace Geevarghese Mar Coorilos, Metropolitan  Diocese of Bombay from the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church; His Beatitude Gregorios III Laham Patriarch of Antioch and of All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem from the Melkite Greek Catholic Church; His Holiness Archbishop Paul Sayan, official representative of  His Beatitude Moran Mor Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East; Most Revd Dr. Kari Mäkinen, Archbishop of Finland and Turku from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and Reverend Daniel Buddha, Representative of the World Council of Churches.

The Ecumenical meeting concluded with the prayer of Cardinal Leonardo Sandri of the Catholic Church.