A Time of Sorrow for All Armenians

As Armenians throughout the world come to grips with the developments in Armenia and Artsakh this week, Diocesan Primate Bishop Daniel urges us to unite under the guidance of our Lord, to seek a path forward. Read the message here.

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My Dear People:

By now, every Armenian in the world has received the heavy news from our homeland, about the outcome of the war in Artsakh. By now, every Armenian heart is cracked with grief.

Millions of faithful Armenians throughout the world awoke Tuesday in a state of mourning, bitterness, or mute shock. We were united in this intense sorrow, just as we were united—mere days ago—in our intense advocacy for our people in Artsakh and Armenia.

Surely our bitter sorrow is entirely justified. We have lost ground in our holy homeland of Artsakh. Sacred shrines that have been cherished by Armenian pilgrims for more than a thousand years are no longer in Armenian hands. The fundamental human right—which is all we have ever sought—of a people to live in peace and freedom, has been desecrated.

More personally, the precious blood of our courageous, defiant, beautiful brothers and sisters has been spilled in the cause of defending our homeland. We have hardly begun to assess the number of dead, wounded, and displaced among our countrymen. But we do know one thing with crystal clarity: Their noble sacrifices must not be in vain.

Our Catholicos spoke to these concerns in the hours after this week’s turn of events, as a loving father addressing all the children of the Armenian nation. With a careworn but resolute expression, His Holiness Karekin II called for sober judgment and civil conduct. He urged us to heed the lesson of Armenian history: the need for national unity. As he has done so many times in these 44 days—indeed, throughout this year of tribulation—Vehapar spoke to the deepest truth of our identity.

In the deepest recesses of our hearts we are always united as Armenians—because we are always united in Christ. In times of ease and plenty we may forget this truth. We may even betray it—perhaps it is simply human nature to do so. But in our hours of greatest trial, the unity of the Armenian people can shine with blinding brightness. And it is something very rare and precious, which distinguishes the Armenian nation among all others.

That was surely the testimony Armenians showed to the world during the 44 days of war on our homeland. Every nation on earth has labored under burdens this year. But is there any other nation that summoned such fierce loyalty and solidarity from her people scattered across the world, than our own Armenian homeland?

We came together instinctively as one, when our very existence was threatened by violence from a cruel, amoral enemy. But my dear people, the struggle for our existence has not stopped. Our unity with one another will be just as critical in the days and years to come, as it was thirty years ago, in the time of the earthquake, and the earliest days of our homeland’s independence.

Our instinct in the coming days may be to magnify our differences, to allow them to fracture us as a people. But we must resist that destructive impulse, and remain one in Christ. This week marks a new beginning of our work—and there is so much work to be done to repair and heal our homeland, to the extent possible; to create a new pathway for Armenia and the Armenians to thrive. Charting the right path, under the guidance of our Lord, will require the selfless determination of all of us, in Armenia, Artsakh, and the diaspora. Our path ahead requires our unity, now more than ever.

In this troubling time, the purposes of God are very hard to discern. But surely He has not sustained us through the past centuries to see us fracture and fragment in this most critical moment. Let us live in the spirit of unity—and in that spirit, ask our Father in Heaven to reveal His will for us.

There is one further thing to say, in this dispiriting time. Over these many years we have all made connections to our homeland. Armenia is a land where we all have friends, family, colleagues. But among us are people with a very special connection to Armenia and Artsakh. Our parishes in America are blessed with clergy and families who were born and grew up there. As a Diocese and as a church, we are especially cognizant of the pain they feel today, which is indescribably deep.

We ask our merciful Lord to console them, as He consoles all of our people: in Armenia and Artsakh; in America and around the world. We pray as one people that the Lord Jesus Christ will remember, and honor, every sacrifice made in these weeks of struggle—for every single one was made in His name. We ask our risen Lord to lead us on the difficult and uncertain path that lies ahead.

Most of all, we ask Him to bless and protect Armenia, Artsakh, and His Armenian Church and people, now and always. Amen.

“May the Lord give strength to his people.
May the Lord bless his people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11)

With my prayers,


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