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Diocese Gathers Support for Artsakh and Armenia

Bishop Daniel has stated that the war in Artsakh and Armenia must be fought on many fronts. One such front involves gathering support from the world community, to affirm the rights of our homeland and uphold the truth about the conflict.

Since the war’s outbreak, the Eastern Diocese has made strenuous efforts to connect with influential voices in the Christian ecumenical community and elsewhere, convey accurate information to their faithful members, and secure their help in restoring peace and justice for our homeland.

Bishop Daniel’s outreach to national leaders of the Christian denominations led this week to an invitation from Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Roman Catholic Church’s Archbishop of New York, to appear on the Cardinal’s daily radio interview program. Bishop Daniel appeared on “Conversations with Cardinal Dolan” on Tuesday afternoon, October 13, during which he received a long segment to speak about the war in Artsakh, and the need to support our people in the homeland during this critical time. A recording of the interview is available on the website of Sirius XM’s Catholic Channel (channel 129). Click here to listen to it. Bishop Daniel’s segment begins around 40 minutes into the program.

Diocesan Legate and Ecumenical Director Archbishop Vicken Aykazian has been extremely active contacting the Armenian Church’s ecumenical partners around the country and the across the globe, to inform them of the situation, and to secure public statements of their support and solidarity.

Excerpts from some of the statements of these sister churches, with links to the full text, appear below.

Relatedly, late last week 82 Armenian clergymen serving in the United States—the entire compliment of priests in the Western and Eastern dioceses—signed a letter to President Trump calling for his personal diplomatic action in the Artsakh war. Led by Western Diocese Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian and Eastern Diocese Primate Bishop Daniel Findikyan, the letter urges the President: “We call upon you to intervene to save the innocent people of Artsakh from Azeri and Turkish aggression.” (Read more here.)

Sister Churches Stand With the Armenian Church

This week, prompted by outrage over the shelling of the Sourp Prgich Cathedral in Shushi, the World Council of Churches released its second statement supporting Armenians in the Artsakh war. “We were shocked and dismayed by the attack on the Ghazanchetsots cathedral, in which civilians were sheltering at the time,” this WCC statement reads. “We condemn any targeted attack on one another’s religious and cultural sites.” (Read more here.)

The National Council of Churches has been explicit in its condemnation of Azeri aggression: “The NCC opposes this unprovoked surprise attack by Azerbaijan that has brought Armenia into a state of war.” It stated further: “The NCC stands in solidarity with the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, the World Council of Churches, and people of goodwill everywhere in expressing our outrage and deep sadness at this conflict…. We deplore the use of military force by Azerbaijan and the Syrian rebel fighters that are funded and sent by Turkey to assist their assault on the Armenian community. The use of armor, aviation, heavy artillery, and drones suggests a planned operation. It is time that Turkey ends their involvement in the region by stopping their participation in the fight and their encouragement of the war.” (Read more here.)

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has issued a strong statement against the “continued violence by Azerbaijan against Armenia and the loss of life in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh)…. The Armenian people have historically faced repeated and continuous genocide and ethnic cleansing and have been targeted for their faith. Our siblings of the Christian Church in the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) have suffered severe persecution, starvation and the potential of genocide throughout their history, most recently in the 1990s.We strongly condemn the unprovoked surprise attack on September 27, 2020 by Azerbaijan that has brought Armenia into a state of war. We deplore the use of military force by Azerbaijan and the Syrian rebel fighters who are funded and sent by Turkey to assist the Azerbaijani assault on the Armenian community.” (Read more here.)

The United Church of Christ has called on its members to urge the United States to “undertake diplomatic measures to halt the fighting” in Artsakh, and to “oppose the unprovoked surprise attack” that began on September 27. The UCC statement makes common cause with both the National Council and World Council of Churches in expressing solidarity with their longtime ecumenical partner, the Armenian Church. (Read more here.)

The Church of the Brethren put out a statement that “reaffirm[s] our longterm support for the Armenian people, which began more than 100 years ago in 1917 during the Armenian Genocide, when Brethren began responding to the needs of survivors and refugees. That aid effort has particular significance for us, marking the start of our denomination’s focus on Christian service and disaster relief that continues to this day.” The 100,000-member Church of the Brethren considers its historic outreach during the Genocide one of the formative turning points of its 300-year ministry. (Read more here.)

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America condemned “the recent surprise attack on the people of Armenia and Artsakh” that has “resulted in violence and death, buttressed by cyber-attacks and disinformation. The nation of Armenia has been launched into a state of war.” ELCA went on to voice “our sadness and solidarity with the people of Armenia and Artsakh,” asserted the need “to uphold the truth about the conflict.” It concluded: “We call upon our elected leaders to utilize diplomatic channels to intervene in order to prevent further violence and death. We invite our congregations and leaders to reach out to their Armenian neighbors in expressions of Christly love and care.” (Read more here.)

In an open letter to faithful of the Episcopal Church, its Presiding Bishop Michael Curry wrote how “we are shocked and deeply dismayed by the recent bombardment of the border of the Artsakh region. It is heartbreaking indeed.The Episcopal Church treasures its relationship with the Armenian Church of America. Our General Convention of 2006 called for the inclusion in our Church Calendar of Genocide Remembrance Day on April 24, lamenting the deaths of so many Armenian Christians a century ago, along with the victims of other 20th century genocides. And as the prayer for that day of remembrance says, we ask Almighty God to ‘give us courage to stand against hatred and oppression, and to seek the dignity and well-being of all’ for Jesus’ sake.Especially now, in this time of conflict and grief, we will continue to pray in earnest for peace and justice.” (Read more here.)

—10/15/20

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