With our homeland under attack, Bishop Daniel appeals to all Armenians to pray, lend support, and make your voices heard: “We all have a role to play, some action to take. I urge you to do so for the defense of Artsakh and Armenia.”
A Message from Bishop Daniel
Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America
My Dear People:
This weekend we witnessed a true Day of Infamy in the modern history of the Armenian people. Our centuries-old, historic, and holy Artsakh suffered an unprovoked surprise attack along its entire border, with shelling targeted at its capital city Stepanakert. Government officials at the highest level in Artsakh and Armenia have confirmed that our homeland is now in a state of war.
On Sunday night the Artsakh Defense Ministry released a list of 16 Armenian casualties our people have suffered in the bombardment—soldiers as well as civilians, including at least one child. Sadly, in subsequent days that list has now grown to surpass 80 Armenian souls, and will likely be updated in the days to come. The fact that the aggressor power’s cruel actions have led to hundreds of casualties on its own side, as a result of Artsakh’s justified retaliatory effort, in no way balances the loss of our brothers and sisters.
We pray to our merciful Lord Jesus Christ for the repose of every one of those 16 lives of our fellow countrymen; for consolation to their grieving families; for the security of Artsakh and Armenia; and for the safety of every soul who resides in and defends our sacred, historic homeland. We pray above all that God will protect our people, deliver them from all adversaries, and establish His peace and justice in Armenia and Artsakh.
As Primate I have been in close consultation with Armenia’s Ambassador to the U.S. Varuzhan Nersesyan, as well as with my fellow bishops and church leaders in America, and the heads of our Armenian-American cultural, political, and advocacy organizations.The Ambassador informs us that Armenian morale is very strong, and that among our soldiers, civilians, and government officials there is every expectation that Armenia and Artsakh will emerge victorious in this war. We pray to God with utmost urgency to support and realize those expectations.
Nevertheless, the present situation is very grave, with the vicious, dictatorial aggressor power of Azerbaijan being supported rhetorically and militarily by Turkey. The war has many fronts, including cyber attacks against Armenian Internet platforms, and a campaign of disinformation that attempts to portray—against every shred of evidence—Armenia as the aggressor in the war. Already, we see false public assertions, from news agencies and various governments, characterizing Azerbaijan’s unprovoked attack on Artsakh as merely a result of “old tensions,” with blame cast on both sides.
How You Can Act
My dear people, this is a war in which we all have a stake—in which we all, in our humble ways, have some role to play, some action to take. I urge you to do so for the defense and preservation of Artsakh and Armenia.
• Our Armenian-American advocacy groups, the Armenian Assembly of America and the Armenian National Committee, are meeting with members of Congress and the Administration, urging them to officially and publicly condemn the Azeri aggression and demand its immediate cessation; to demand the termination of all U.S. financial aid to Azerbaijan; and to rein in Turkey from its insidious supportive role.
Both ANCA and the Assembly have made it easy for you to make your voices heard in support of these goals. Please click on the links above to access their websites, and urge the American government to stand with our people in this crisis.
• Armenia’s government is looking to the diaspora for financial as well as moral support. The government has asked that your generous contributions be directed to the Armenia Fund (ՀայաստանիՀիմնադրամ). Please note that their website was hacked earlier; but a new and secure website is now in operation, handling all contributions: www.armeniafund.org. You may also contribute by phone at (800) 888-8897.
The Eastern Diocese will abide by the request of Armenia’s government and direct our fundraising efforts to the Armenia Fund. All American-Armenian organizations are united in this approach. I urge you to contribute to this effort, in which all funds collected will support civilian humanitarian aid.
• On Thursday, October 1, a flight will depart from Los Angeles to deliver medical supplies to Armenia. I ask all those among you in a position to donate such medical supplies to contact Armenia Fund at (818) 243-6222, to find out how you can be of help.
These are serious, dangerous days for our people—coming at a time of hazardous uncertainty for the entire world. There is no question that the Armenian cause is just and godly, and that by the will of our victorious risen Lord our cause will prevail. But we know, too, from history, that the enemy has power to inflict great damage on our innocent land and people.
In this difficult moment, I want to assure you, my faithful people, that this tension between unjust suffering and victorious hope was the constant theme of Christ’s life and teaching. It is the deepest meaning of the mystery of the Cross. We know that our ancestors faced unspeakable anguish and sorrow; yet in their heartfelt contemplation of the Cross, they felt the hope of God’s tender embrace, and found the faith and valor to trust in His will.
Let these examples stand before us in the coming days, and always.
With my prayers,
September 28, 2020
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