Bishop Daniel Findikyan, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, issued this message on the assaults against Armenia’s northern border.
We have all been moved this week by the terrible news of the assault on Armenia’s northern border by the military of Azerbaijan, resuming their decades-long aggression against our homeland and its people.
The soldiers of the Armenian Armed Forces who risk their lives in defense of our independent nation have been valiant in their repulse of the border incursion. But tragically, four of their number—Junior Sergeants Grisha Matevosyan and Smbat Gabrielyan, Captain Sos Elbakyan, and Major Garush Hambardzumyan—lost their lives in the fighting. Armenia’s government has awarded them posthumous medals.
Our Catholicos, His Holiness Karekin II, in a touching expression of his role as father of all our people, traveled to the Tavush region where the incursion occurred, to meet in person with the troops, encourage their hearts, and preside over the funeral of Major Hambardzumyan.
In his message on that sorrowful occasion, His Holiness affirmed that we Armenians“are a people of peace; but we will forever reject any offense against our freedom and identity. We know that peace is secured and sanctified by the blood of our countrymen, who have sacrificed their lives for our holy homeland and our independence. In loving gratitude, we bow to the memory of those children who gave up their lives to protect our own.”
To those sentiments, one can only say, “Amen.” Today we as a Diocese, along with fellow Armenians throughout the world, stand with our Catholicos in his humane expression of consolation and resolve. We stand with our homeland in denouncing this week’s outrage against Armenian sovereignty and security. And we stand with all our countrymen in our grief over the loss of life, and the continuing endangerment of our peace-loving people.
We all know that Armenia has had to turn away such attacks before—and by God’s grace our people have been more than a match to that heavy task. But the present attack reveals a new dimension in the enemy’s cruelty, as it comes during a time of universal hardship under a global pandemic. When the entire world is focusing its full attention on combatting a deadly virus, Azerbaijan has chosen to exploit this moment to afflict further pain and suffering on innocent people.
I would add, having journeyed to Tavush—where our Fund for Armenian Relief maintains many critical projects to relieve the burdensome poverty of the region—that its good people are especially vulnerable at this time. That they are now being subjected to assault, with their civilian centers targeted by Azeri rocket fire, is truly unconscionable. But though poor, the people of Tavush are strong and capable, as they have proven during earlier attacks. God grant them additional strength and protection in these times.
My dear people, let us offer that prayer together in these days of trial. Let us pray that our victorious Lord will bestow his protection on our homeland, and inspire even greater fortitude in our people. Let us pray for His Holiness Karekin II, the government authorities of Armenia, the men-at-arms who defend our country, and the citizens they serve.
Let us also support the cause in ways we can, by contacting our own political representatives, and insisting that the U.S. government should condemn the attack on Armenia, promote peace in the region, and withdraw support that would enable Azerbaijan to pursue its intolerant aims. (Below you will find links to further information and action.)
The events of the past days—adding to those of the past months—illustrate as never before the deep need humanity has for a heavenly Savior. For centuries, our people have recognized and embraced that Savior in the person of Jesus Christ, and he is with us now and always. We raise our eyes and voices to heaven to seek his will. As we approach the inspirational feast day of Vartavar, let all Armenian Christians, united in spirit, more fully open our hearts to the transfiguring power of God.
With my prayers,
July 16, 2020
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