During a meeting at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin on February 20-23, under the presidency of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, the Armenian Church’s Supreme Spiritual Council reviewed the past year’s developments at the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, and discussed the prospect of organizing patriarchal elections.
An English-language translation of the resulting statement issued by the Supreme Spiritual Council appears below.
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The Supreme Spiritual Council expresses concern again regarding unfortunate developments in the life of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, due to the sickness of the Patriarch, His Beatitude Archbishop Mesrob Mutafyan. The situation surrounding the Patriarchal See has caused discomfort and conflict in our people throughout the world.
In 2016 new sensitivities arose in the context of the reality of the de facto vacant See and the imperative to undertake new patriarchal elections. In order to alleviate them, with the exhortation of the Catholicos of All Armenians, bishops of the See were invited to Holy Etchmiadzin, where they committed to resolving the issues. As a result, the election of a patriarchal locum tenens inspired a new hope of endowing the historical See with a patriarch and restoring normal life to Constantinopolitan Armenians.
It pains us to note that after a short time, as a consequence of uncircumspect steps taken by responsible church bodies and individuals, a situation was created which gave the opportunity for the intervention of internal influences and the Turkish authorities, kindling new emotions and once again causing the failure of efforts for the organizing of patriarchal elections.
The Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin always salutes the will of the Armenians of Constantinople, and she brings her support to the decisions made by the See’s bodies.
Taking into account the decision of the Religious Council of the Patriarchate of Constantinople at its February 9, 2018, meeting, we issue a call to prudence to the brothers of the See—His Eminence Archbishop Karekin Bekjian, His Eminence Archbishop Aram Ateshian, His Grace Bishop Sahag Mashalian, and the other clergy—to keep themselves above personal ambitions and interpersonal relations; to consider as a priority the good of the See of Constantinople; to correct the mistaken steps taken with all wisdom and willingness; and to restore peace, unity, and harmony to the troubled life of Constantinopolitan Armenians.
The exhortation of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin to the members of the Religious Council and to laymen who have status and influence in the community is to recognize the incapacity His Beatitude Patriarch Mesrob in his long term severe sickness, and to organize the patriarchal elections according to the process established with the government, preserving the canons of the Armenian Church and legal requirements, for the brightness of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople and for the consolation of our faithful people.
Our expectation is that the Turkish authorities will follow through with the just demand of the Armenian community for the organizing of the elections of the Armenian Patriarchate.
We also convey an invitation for calmness to our people in the diaspora, that modesty and restraint may afford the opportunity for the See of Constantinople to overcome the created situation.
“Finally, brothers, be alive. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11).
[Signed] The Supreme Spiritual Council