His Holiness Vazken I, In Memorium, Vol. 4, No. 2

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1994 Volume IV, Number 2

© 1994 Armenian Church Research & Analysis Group


Vol IV, No. 2 1994
(page numbers correspond to hard copy)

Memoriam–His Holiness Vazken I
page 3

Pontifical Election and the
National Ecclesiastical Assembly
Michael Findikyan
page 4

Pontifical Stats
page 5

The Elections of 1955 & 1977
pages 6 & 7

The Candidates of 1994
pages 8 & 9

Nation Building and the Church
A Conversation with His Holiness Karekin II
page 11

Going for the Gold
Vazken Movsesian
page 13

Evangelization in the Former Soviet Union
Vatican Document
page 15

page 19


c. 1994
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His Holiness Vazken I, Catholicos of All Armenians

His Holiness Vazken I was born Levon Karapet Baljian on September 20, 1908.
He was the only son of Abraham, a humble shoemaker, and Siranoush, a young
teacher, of Rodosto (Turkey). In 1898, escaping the oppression of Armenians in
the Ottoman Empire — his parents emigrated to Bucharest, Romania, where Levon
was born. In 1928, Levon graduated high school and became a teacher in the
Armenian School of Bucharest. While teaching, he continued his higher education
at the University of Bucharest, graduating in 1936 with a degree in pedagogy
and psychology.
Levon Baljian was a very active member of the Armenian community of Romania.
In 1937, he established and edited a monthly magazine, Herg [Harvest]. In 1943,
after the death of the Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of
Romania, the community was left without a religious leader and a vacuum was
created in the life of the church in Romania. Levon Baljian, as a young man,
responded to God’s call and under the most difficult conditions (the Nazi
period), traveled to Greece to receive ordination to the holy rank of
priesthood in the Armenian Church. He was renamed Vazken.
Upon his ordination in Athens, he returned to Romania and took charge of the
affairs of the church and community. In 1948, he was elected Primate of
Romania, and thereupon was consecrated a Bishop by his predecessor, His
Holiness Kevork VI. Subsequently, he was elected Primate of the Diocese of
Bulgaria as well.
In 1955, following the death of Catholicos Kevork VI, the National
Ecclesiastical Assembly of the Armenian Church, convened in Etchmiadzin and
elected young Bishop Vazken Baljian as the Catholicos of All Armenians.
The Pontificate of Vazken I extended over four decades. He is among the few
catholicoi in the Armenian Church who had a long and illustrious tenure and who
provided tremendous leadership to the Armenian nation. He passed away on August
17, 1994 in Yerevan, Armenia.
The thirty-nine year tenure of His Holiness Vazken I coincided with one of the
most difficult chapters of Armenian history. All throughout the Communist
period, His Holiness preserved the integrity of the Armenian Church, and lead
the mission of the Armenian Church with courage, dedication and wisdom. The
passing of His Holiness Vazken I obviates the end of an era in the Armenian
Church — an era marked by the death of Communism on the one hand, and the
resurrection of Independent Armenian on the other.
May The Lord accept the soul of Vazken I in His eternal Kingdom and May he
give the comfort of the Holy Spirit to the entire Armenian Nation.

Pontifical Election
and the
National Ecclesiastical Assembly
Compiled by
Deacon Michael Findikyan

The election of the Catholicos of All Armenians is a momentous event in the
life of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Unlike other churches, the Armenian
supreme patriarch is elected by the clergy and the people in a
“National-Ecclesiastical Assembly” [Axga\in-:k;[;zakan Vo[ow] which is convened
in Etchmiadzin, Armenia, especially for that purpose.

In the absence of clear procedures and bylaws, we present the following
description of the election process based on the official documentation of the
last pontifical election in 1955. The minutes of the national-ecclesiastical
assembly of that year, as well as other articles describing the election of His
Holiness Vazken I are published in Etchmiadzin, the official journal of the
Holy See of Etchmiadzin.
One of the more significant documents published in the 1955 volume of the
Mother See’s journal is the “Procedure for Convening the
National-Ecclesiastical Assembly,” which was prepared by the 1945
National-Ecclesiastical Assembly and ratified by Kevork VI, who was elected
Catholicos of All Armenians at that assembly.  This document defines the nature
and purpose of the Assembly and provides valuable information on the procedure
for electing the Catholicos.  Beyond a few specific regulations, the Assembly
has broad powers to decide specific issues relating to the election procedure.

The National-Ecclesiastical Assembly

The National-Ecclesiastical Assembly is the supreme legislative body of the
Holy Apostolic Church of Armenia. It is convoked in Etchmiadzin, when
necessary, by the Catholicos of all Armenians, who is its president. In the
event that the Catholicos is unable to preside, the assembly is presided over
by the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia or the Patriarch of Jerusalem
or the Patriarch of Constantinople. In the absence of these three hierarchs,
the Catholicos of All Armenians will appoint a locum tenens for that express

Principle responsibilities of the Assembly:

ù Election of the Catholicos of All Armenians.
ù Election of the members of the Supreme Ecclesiastical Council.
ù Establishment of the national-ecclesiastical constitution.
ù Examination and resolution of ecclesiastical and canonical issues.
ù Stewardship of the church’s financial affairs.

Participants of the Assembly

ù The members of the Supreme Ecclesiastical Council
ù The Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia together with the bishops of the
Cilician See
ù The Patriarchs of Jerusalem and Constantinople
ù All diocesan primates of the Armenian Church
ù All bishops of the Armenian Church
ù One representative each of the following monastic brotherhoods:  Holy
Etchmiadzin, the Great House of Cilicia, Jerusalem and the Patriarchate of
ù Each diocese is further represented by one elected delegate for every 25,000
Armenians.  There should be a fair distribution of delegates from the various
geographical regions of one diocese.  Delegates must be at least 30 years of
ù Communities of at least 5000 persons may elect one delegate.  Where
appropriate smaller communities should join together to elect a delegate.

Election of delegates to the National-Ecclesiastical Assembly is to be
conducted according to local diocesan constitutions, canons, or other customary

The Election of the Catholicos

Elections for a new Catholicos are held no earlier than six month from the
date of his passing. At that time, the National-Ecclesiastical Assembly is
called by the locum tenens of the Catholicos of All Armenians and the Supreme
Ecclesiastical Council. The National-Ecclesiastical Assembly convenes in
Etchmiadzin and the actual election is held in the Cathedral.

The Candidates

Every bishop of the Armenian Church is eligible to be elected Catholicos of
All Armenians by the Assembly. (In 1955 the issue was raised whether a bishop
must be present at the Assembly to be eligible. It was decided that all bishops
were eligible for election whether present at the Assembly or not. The
delegates felt that this was in keeping with “the ancient tradition of the
Armenian Apostolic Church.”)

The Agenda of the Assembly

Aside from the election of the Catholicos, the assembly may discuss other
issues facing the Church as necessary. (At the assembly of 1955 several issues
were addressed including the financial situation of the Holy See. These
sessions were held in the auditorium of the Seminary building on the grounds of
the monastery.)

For further reading:
Etchmiadzin Journal, Jan 1944, p. 13; Oct-Dec. 1944, p. 1-6; June-July 1945;
Aug.-Oct. 1945, pp. 17-18; Nov.-Dec. 1945, pp. 38-39; Dec, 1955 pp.9-15;
Oct-Nov. 1955 pp. 9, 14-24,  50-67, 68-77.

Apostolic Succession in the Armenian Church is traced to the Apostles Sts.
Thaddeus and Bartholomew, the “First Enlighteners” of Armenia. There have been
140 chief bishops of the Church since the Apostles and 130 Catholicoi since St.
Gregory the “Second Illuminator” of Armenia (301). St. Gregory is regarded as
the first Catholicos of Armenians. He received episcopal consecration by
Patriarch Leontius, Archbishop of Caesara in Cappadocia in 302 A.D. He founded
the Pontifical Seat in the city of Vagharshapat, known today as Etchmiadzin.
The Mother See has moved 10 ten times since it was first established. The
locations apart from Etchmiadzin were D’win, Argina, Tsaravank/Aghtamar, Ani,
Tav’blour, Tzavnandos, Tzovk/T’ghiah, Hromglay and Sis.
Catholicos at the age of 20

The youngest Catholicos in the history of the Armenian Church is Gregory III
Bahlavuni, whose tenure lasted over half a century (1113-1156). According to
historian, Abp. Ormanian, Catholicos Gregory Vkayaser (1066-1105) had left a
will where he proposed his nephew Basil to succeed him and upon Basil’s death
his grand nephew Gregory as Catholicos.
Gregory was 20 years old when he was consecrated Catholicos. He was already a
bishop at the time of his predecessor’s death. Despite his young age, Gregory
III became one of the most prominent catholicoi in the Armenian Church, both in
terms of administrating the affairs of the Church and in terms of enriching the
religious and liturgical tradition of the Armenian Church.

Seven Catholicoi from one family

The Bahlavuni clan has given seven catholicoi who’s combined tenure extends
over 137 years. Gregory Bahlavuni was succeeded by his brother Nersess
Shnorhali, the Gracious, (1166-1173). St. Nersess was succeeded by his
brother’s eldest son, Gregory IV D’gha (1173-1193). He was succeeded by his
nephew, Gregory V Karavej who was assassinated after a tenure of less than one
year.  Gregory D’gha’s cousin, Gregory VI Apirat became Catholicos from
1194-1203, thus ending the Bahlavuni family domination of the Patriarchal See.


The last the National Ecceliastical  Assembly to elect a Catholicos of All
Armenians convened in 1955. The election itself was conducted much like that of
any civic or church organization. On the day of the election, the Assembly
convened in the Seminary auditorium as usual. From there, the delegates were
led in procession to the Cathedral.  At the entrance to the Cathedral a
previously elected credentials committee comprised of clergy and lay members
individually checked the credentials of each delegate before allowing them to
enter the Cathedral for the election. When all the delegates had entered, the
doors were closed; no one except official delegates and official photographers
were permitted into the Cathedral.
After the opening of this session, the names of each of the bishops were read.
Three persons were elected to monitor the voting procedure and count the
ballots.  Official ballots had been prepared and were distributed to the
delegates. As their names were called, the delegates approached the ballot box
one by one and deposited their ballots. After all the delegates had voted, the
senior bishop of the committee monitoring the elections read each ballot out
loud as the others tabulated the results. Out of 137 possible votes Bishop
Vazken Baljian, Primate of Romania and Bulgaria received 125 and was heralded
the new Catholicos of All Armenians.
All of the bishops congratulated the new Catholicos, who then addressed the
Assembly and offered his first benediction as Catholicos and closed that
session of the Assembly. Subsequent sessions of the Assembly were presided over
by the new Catholicos of All Armenians.


1955 Delegate total : 140

Delegates from Armenia: 52
Diocese of Shirak: 19
Diocese of Ararat: 30
Etchmiadzin: 3

Delegates from the Soviet Republics: 56
Diocese of Nor Nakhichevan & Rostov: 18
Diocese of Azerbaijan & Turkestan: 20
Diocese of Georgia: 18

Diaspora Delegates: 32
California (Western): 4
France: 5
Bulgaria: 3
United States (Eastern): 9
Jerusalem: 2
Egypt: 3
England: 2
Romania: 2
Cilician Catholicosate: 2

1955 Assembly
Executive officers

1– Archbishop Mampr‚ Siroonian (Primate of Egypt)
2– Archbishop Mampr‚ Kalfayan (Primate of Eastern Diocese)
3– Bishop Vazken Baljian (Primate of Bulgaria & Romania)

1– Avedik Isahakian (Poet)
2– Mardiros Saryan (Artist)
3– Hrant Nasibian (Egypt)
4– Sarkis Kurkjian (London)

1– Very Rev. Shnork Kalustian (Primate of California)
2– Haig Arakelian (Chancellor of the Mother See)
3– Sempad Devletian (Diocese of Georgia)

1– Very Rev. Serovp‚ Manoogian (Pontifical Legate to Europe)
2– Prof. A.G. Abrahamian
3– Prof. A. Gharibian

1– Very Rev. Haigazoun Abrahamian (Jerusalem Patriarchate)
2– Humayag Setkarian (chief financial offier of Mother See)
3– Haig Arakelian (Chancellor of the Mother See)

His Holiness Khoren I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, due to his
failing health, called for the election of a Catholicos- Coadjutor, in an
Encyclical dated January 26, 1977.  On May 22, 1977, the Electoral Assembly of
the Cilician See convened in the Cathedral of the Catholicosate under the
presidency of His Holiness Khoren I.
Levon Boyajian, the senior delegate and Mourad Topalian, the junior delegate,
were appointed temporary executives. Following the inspection of credentials, a
formal executive body was elected, with Khatchig Babigian, Esq., Chairman and
Yervant Pamboukian, Vice Chairman.
At the opening of the Assembly, His Holiness Khoren I said that it was with
great regret, due to his health, that he would be unable to continue the
Pontifical responsibilities of his See. “I therefore invite, the Electoral
Assembly, to elect a Catholicos-Coadjutor to take charge of all administrative
responsibilities and to eventual succeed me.”
According to the accepted tradition of the Cilician See, the Catholicos is
elected by an Assembly composed of one-third clergymen and two-thirds laymen.
The number of seats is determined according to the numerical size of the
dioceses under the jurisdiction of the Catholicosate.
One hundred eighty (180) delegates participated in the election, among which
were two delegates representing the Holy See of Etchmiadzin.
On the second ballot Archbishop Karekin Sarkissian, having received 151 votes
was proclaimed Catholicos-Coadjutor. His Holiness Khoren I placed his
pontifical ring on Archbishop Sarkissian’s finger and addressed him with the
title, Vehapar (“Your Holiness”).
At the conclusion of the procedure, the two Catholicoi walked out of the
cathedral into the courtyard to the thunderous applause and approval of the
overflow crowd.

Source: Iris Papazian, Faith, Hope, Love: The Election and Consecration of His
Holiness Karekin II, (New Jersey, Michael Barour Publications).

1977 Delegate Total: 180*

Diocesan prelates: 9
Brotherhood of the Cilician Catholicosate: 22
Diocese of Lebanon: 41
Diocese of Syria: 24
Diocese of Cyprus: 3
Diocese of United States (Eastern & Canada): 20
Diocese of United States (Western): 11
Diocese of Tabriz, Iran: 7
Diocese of Tehran, Iran: 28
Diocese of New Julfa, Iran: 5
Diocese of Greece: 3
Holy See of Etchmiadzin: 2
[Assembly Officers: 5]

*clergy: 1/3
*layity: 2/3

The Candidates of 1994

Ajemian    Shahe    Archbishop    68    1926    18    1947    29    1965        E    Bishop    Jerusalem
Arabajian    Anania    Bishop    43    1951    10    1973    11    1983        E    Bishop    Armenia
Arisdagesian    Asoghig    Bishop    35    1959    5    1983    6    1988        E    Bishop    Armenia
Assadourian    Avak    Archbishop    52    1942    5    1977    12    1982        E    Primate    Iraq
Aykazian    Viken    Bishop    44    1950    21    1971    2    1992        J    Primate    Switzerland
Baghdasian    Housig    Bishop    60    1934    33    1959    2    1992        J    Bishop    Jerusalem
Baliozian    Aghan    Archbishop    46    1948    14    1968    12    1982        J    Priamte    Australia
Barsamian    Khajag    Archbishop    43    1951    19    1971    4    1990        J    Primate    New York
Bekjian    Karekin    Bishop    52    1942    27    1965    2    1992        C    Primate    Germany
Berberian    Arsen    Archbishop    57    1937    11    1962    21    1973        E    Primate    Armenia
Bogharian    Norair    Archbishop    90    1904    23    1928    43    1951        J    Bishop    Jerusalem
Bozabalian    Nerses    Archbishop    57    1937    18    1955    21    1973        E    Chancellor    Armenia
Chinchinian    Zaven    Archbishop    65    1929    14    1951    29    1965        E    Primate    Egypt
Derderian    Hovnan    Archbishop    37    1957    10    1980    4    1990        E    Primate    Canada
Geureghian    Diran    Archbishop    46    1948    16    1972    6    1988        E    Primate    Moscow
Gharibian    Datev    Archbishop    57    1937    21    1963    10    1984        J    Primate    Brazil
Gharibian    Sevan    Bishop    54    1940    20    1968    6    1988        J    Bishop    Jerusalem
Gizirian    Yeghishe    Archbishop    68    1926    35    1947    12    1982        E    Primate    England
Hovepian    Vatche    Archbishop    64    1930    16    1951    27    1967        E    Primate    California
Jerejian    Knel    Archbishop    79    1915    21    1937    36    1958        E    Primate    Damascus
Jerejian    Daron    Bishop    57    1937    29    1963    2    1992        E    Bishop    France
Kalpakian    Vosgan    Archbishop    53    1941    17    1965    12    1982        E    Primate    Greece
Kapikian    Geuregh    Bishop    73    1921    25    1951    18    1976        J    Bishop    Jerusalem
Kazanjian    Karekin    Archbishop    67    1927    16    1950    28    1966        C    Patriarch    Turkey
Kelenjian    Hagop    Archbishop    39    1955    19    1971    4    1990        E    Primate    Uruguay
Khachadourian    Vagharsh    Bishop    53    1941    27    1961    6    1988        J    Bishop    Jerusalem
Krikorian    Mesrob    Archbishop    62    1932    33    1953    8    1986        E    Primate    Austria
Manoogian    Torkom    Archbishop    75    1919    23    1939    32    1962        J    Patriarch    Jerusalem
Mardigian    Dirayr    Archbishop    64    1930    6    1956    32    1962        E    Primate    Romania
Mardirossian    Barkev    Bishop    40    1954    3    1985    6    1988        E    Primate    Karabakh
Mouradian    Kisag    Archbishop    43    1951    19    1971    4    1990        J    Primate    Argentina
Mutafyan    Mesrob    Archbishop    38    1956    7    1979    8    1986        C    Bishop    Turkey
Nakashian    Keud    Archbishop    61    1933    18    1955    21    1973        E    Primate    Paris
Nersissian    Karekin    Archbishop    43    1951    11    1972    11    1983        E    Primate    Armenia
Pouniatian    Krikoris    Archbishop    48    1946    14    1969    11    1983        E    Primate    Armenia
Sahagian    Tavit    Archbishop    59    1935    19    1957    18    1976        J    G.Sacristan    Jerusalem
Santourian    Housig    Archbishop    74    1920    6    1956    32    1962        E    G.Sacristan    Armenia
Seraydarian    Kevork    Archbishop    56    1938    9    1964    21    1973        E    Primate    Georgia
Shakarian    Nareg    Bishop    62    1932    11    1962    21    1973        E    Bishop    France
Shirvanian    Aris    Bishop    60    1934    17    1957    20    1974        E    Bishop    San Francisco
Svajian    Shahan    Archbishop    68    1926    12    1954    28    1966        C    Bishop    Turkey
Topalian    Vahan    Bishop    53    1941    25    1963    6    1988        J    Bishop    Jerusalem
Varjabedian    Papken    Bishop    76    1918    16    1941    37    1957        E    Legate    Washington,DC
Vartanian    Hagop    Archbishop    76    1918    26    1939    29    1965        J    (Retired)    France
Zakarian    Norvan    Bishop    54    1940    14    1968    12    1982        E    Bishop    France

Listing is in alphabetical order
DOB–Date of Birth
p/h-years served as a priest
Ordnd.– Date of Ordination
Epsc.– Years served as bishop
Cons.– Year of Consecration as bishop
b/h– Brotherhood
E: Etchmiadzin
J: Jerusalem
C: Constantinople

About the Candidates…
Total Number of Candidates (bishops): 45
Number of Candidates consecrated by Vazken I: 44
Combined years of service to the Church by the Candidates: 1,501
Averagenumber of years of serviceto the Church: 34
Age of oldest candidate: 90
Age of youngest candidate: 35
Average age of candidates: 57
Average number of years served as priest (before consecration as bishop): 17
Average number of years served as bishop: 16
Bishops of the Brotherhood of Etchmiadzin (only): 27
Bishops of the Brotherhood of Jerusalem: 14
Bishops of the Brotherhood of Constantinople: 4
Number serving as Diocesan Primates: 23
Number serving in the Diaspora: 36

The Brotherhood is comprised of celebate priests (and bishops) who are morally
and jurisdictionally tied to one of the monestaries or Holy Sees. Presently,
the Armenian Church has four brotherhoods: Etchmiadzin, Antelias, Jerusalem and

College of Bishops
The College of Bishops( Synod) is the successor to the Convocation of the
Apostles. In the Roman Church, the term college is not understood in a strictly
juridical sense, but analogically, i.e., college is not a “group of equals who
entrust their power to their president,” but a stable group whose structure and
authority are to be deduced from revelation. It was by Christ’s design that the
college came to be (apostles).

The Catholicos is Supreme Patriarch and chief bishop of the Church. The Pope is
supreme among pontiffs (bishops). The relationship between the Roman Pontiff
and the bishops is like that of Peter among the Apostles and not like that of
Christ to the Apostles.

for the office of Catholicos

According to the rubric found in the Service of Consecration of a Catholicos,
the candidate for the office of Catholicos should have a virtuous, holy and
spotless life, with a record of good deeds. He should further be learned and
full of wisdom, capable of leading the people of God. He must profess the
orthodox faith and uphold the Holy Tradition of the Church, “because he is
called to the Pontifical throne of Sts. Thaddeus and Bartholomew and the throne
of the Confessor of Christ, St. Gregory the Illuminator, so that he may be
worthy to receive the Grace and Power from the Almighty Giver of All Goodness.”

Nation Building
and the Church
Reflections on the Mission of the Armenian Church Today

A Conversation with
His Holiness Karekin II
Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia

by Hratch Tchilingirian
Q. As Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, how do you see the mission of
the Armenian Church today?

Karekin II: I would like to answer this question in two parts:
First,  the general mission of the Armenian Church — throughout the centuries
— has been and is the same: making faith in Christ alive and effective in the
life of the Armenian nation.  This was the mission of the Armenian Church
yesterday, is today, and will be tomorrow, in the future.
Second, based on the conditions of contemporary times, the broad mission of
the Armenian Church should have a new direction.  With the regeneration of our
homeland — after seventy years of dictatorship — a new era has opened before
us, through the fruition of the self-independence of the Armenian nation.  As
such, the role of the church in the life of our nation acquired a new
significance and importance.
In this respect, I am convinced that today the Armenian Church in Armenia
should have a new apostolate — an evangelistic role in the life of our people.
Our people is in need of Christianization.  The population is Christian,
nominally, through its history, heritage, tradition, but we need to explicate
Christian faith in such a way — in contemporary life of our people — that
they may see the values that are vital to the moral health and happiness of a
person and of a nation.

Q.  How do you understand this new apostolate?

KAREKIN II: I use the term apostolate in the same sense as it was understood
and practiced in the early centuries of Christianity, that is, activate
evangelistic ministry which will penetrate into the people’s consciousness and
lifestyle in their application of the Christian faith.  We should not feel
sufficed by just preaching general Christian truths, in a theoretical or
abstract way. No.   But we should rather preach what Jesus says in relation to
the diverse aspects of human life.  What does the Gospel say about life and its
dynamics.  Christian faith should be connected to life.  It should not be just
theoretical formulations about God or the Trinity or other truths — by which
people are left to think that these have no relevancy to their everyday life.
For example, in Armenia, in order for our people to rebuild their country, they
need work, they need to take personal initiatives and not wait for foreign or
outside aid.  There is a nation building process.  When the Asian and African
countries came out of colonialism and became independent nations, starting with
India, the churches in these countries developed a theology of nation building
— how to build a nation.  For instance, which Christian truths contribute to
the well being of a nation?  Today, we should interpret the Biblical saying,
“In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread…” [Genesis 3:19] in such a way
that the soil of Armenia — the natural resources of Armenia — would become
the field of work for our people.  You are well aware that during the Soviet
era — under the domination of the Soviet regime — people felt used and
cheated by a force that was above its will and control, which resulted in a
work ethic that was void of honesty and persistence.
Let us take the example of the German nation.  After WWII, Germany overcame
the destruction of the war and became a  economically powerful nation in the
world — by work force.  In those days, I remember the great efforts of the
German churches to make Christian faith an active and practical aspect of their
peoples lives, rather than just a pietistic expression or an abstract
understanding of salvation of souls.  There are many other aspects in the moral
sphere of our national life which need to be reformed through our Christian
faith, as well as the experience of faith that our forefathers bequeathed us.

Q.  How about the Armenian Church in the Diaspora?

Karekin II:  As far as the Diaspora is concerned, I believe that the role of
our church today should primarily be the transmission of our Christian faith
through the revitalization of our national tradition and not just by
formalistic and mere preservation of that tradition.   In most countries —
whether in Europe or the United States — our people live in Christian
societies.  The Roman Catholics or the Protestants preach the same Gospel,
however, where is the specificity of the Armenian Church’s mission?  I believe
that the specificity of the Armenian Church is in her unique Armenian
coloration of Christian faith which our forefathers transmitted it to us
throughout the centuries.  For example, let us take the theology of the Cross.
In the western societies — whether in Roman Catholic or Evangelical circles —
the Cross is the abstraction of suffering.  You rarely see the word
“crucifixion” used in western literature.  However, we need to teach our people
that Christian faith is lived through sacrifice and not through complacency.
Christianity is not a badge you put on your chest.  Christianity is a part of
your existence.  Therefore, we need to tell our people that when the idea of
sacrifice is lost in life, then — according to our Armenian understanding —
we cannot justifiably live a Christian life.

Q.  Your Holiness, could you further explain this “theology of the cross?”

Karekin II: Let me share with you an experience.  One day, I was in Germany to
deliver a sermon and there I made the distinction between the Cross and
Crucifixion.  I said, we are here in this Christian world to bear witness to
the fact that the cross is not an ornament to wear or a reminder of the
crucifixion of Christ, but it is participation in the act of crucifixion. That
is to say, sharing the suffering of others, and by sharing that suffering, we
manifest our love in a supreme way.  Therefore, we need to transmit those
traditions and perceptions that we have inherited from our forebearers.  Our
fathers have given a certain Armenian color to Christian faith, which springs
out from Armenian experience in history and time.  Second in this respect, we
need to be able to explain to our people the fact that nationhood (Azkootyune)
is not opposed to religion.  It is nationalism  that repudiates Christian faith
— nationalism that is exclusivist, i.e., that which does not recognize
anything beyond itself, that which absolutizes itself.  Therefore, the national
character of our church is a unique character and we should not ignore it.
Just because we live in a pluralistic society, it does not mean that the
national character of the church is unimportant.  This will hurt our church.
Let me give you the example of other churches.  I have lived and studied in
England and I have seen how the Anglican Church is intermingled with the
British nation.  And this is not an obstacle to the preaching of the Gospel.
In fact, recently, a new term has found popularity in theology, philosophy and
sociology: the word enculturation. Whenever Christianity has been introduced
into a country or has been permeated into the life of a nation, it has been
influenced by the culture of that given country.  But most important, in turn,
it has influenced the culture of that nation.  No nation, no collective entity
lives without a cultural environment.  In the United States, when we say
American culture, we do not understand a monolithic culture, it is
multi-faceted.  The last time when I was in Los Angeles, the correspondent of
Los Angeles Times asked me: “what do you think of America, do you believe that
it is still a melting pot or a salad bowl?”  I said, “I don’t like neither of
these expressions.  For me, for my own understanding and experience of American
life, American culture is a mosaic, in which the colors get their values in the
harmony in which the artist puts them.”  Likewise for us Armenians in America,
obviously we live in the American culture and we cannot consider that culture
foreign to us.  However, as Armenians, we can contribute to the American mosaic
with our unique color — a color that has been formed and shaped through our
centuries-old experience.   On the other hand, if we identify hundred percent
with those realities that are connected with various aspects and their
consequence in life, then we lose our “saltiness,” we lose our distinctive
That is why I believe that today the mission of our church — both in Armenia
and the Diaspora — is in need of a new orientation, with a renewed energy and
a clear vision.  Without a clear vision, our activities become routine —
without an impact on the people.

*This interview was conducted in Antelias, Lebanon, on June 22, 1994.
Translated from Armenian
by Hratch Tchilingirian.

Going for the Gold
by Fr. Vazken Movsesian

[Jesus said,] “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon
you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and
to the ends of the earth.”  When he had said this, as they were watching, he
was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight…. Then they returned
to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath
day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room
upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew,
Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon
the Zealot, and Judas son of James.  All these were constantly devoting
themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of
Jesus, as well as his brothers.
–Acts 1:8-14

As we prepared this issue of Window we were naturally given cause to reflect
on the direction of the Armenian Church in the wake of His Holiness’ long and
fruitful tenure.
Vazken I had a difficult challenge before him when he took office. Post World
War II society, Stalinism, McCarthyism in the States, the Cold War were the
outside factors, while schisms among the Armenian people had contributed to
assassinations and internal fighting. Yet the 47 year old bishop from Romania
took the helm of our ancient Church and became the 140th successor to the
Apostolic throne. He fought the atheism of the Soviet state with caution and
tact. The fact that Armenia enjoyed a religious life was a testament to His
Holiness’ diplomatic style.
Now the world scene has changed and so has the Church’s effectiveness and role
in the lives of the Armenian people. The “enemies” of the Church are not as
obvious as a proclaimed atheist state. The challenge of reviving and awaking
spirituality among the children of the Church can no longer be avoided. The
spiritual mission of the Church — including educating, marketing, PR,
etc,–must be on the agenda of the new Catholicos. If we are to see the
Armenian Church survive in the Apostolic tradition, it is essential that the
next Catholicos not be concerned with the maintaining of the status quo. The
discontented children of the Church will not tolerate stagnation (as is
apparent by the current losses faced by the church).
As we compiled and researched information for this issue of Window  it became
apparent that the election process will have its share of difficulties. The
rules for electing a Catholicos, as set forth in 1945 and used in the 1955
election do not reflect the current state of the Church. Today, already,
dioceses are beginning to inflate their sphere of influence with exaggerated
numbers of “communicants” thereby increasing their number of delegates.
Defining rules and functions will be essential for a smooth running assembly,
but the assembly must be more than rules and regulations. In 1955 the National
Ecclesiastical Assembly was chaired by Armenian poet Avedik Isahakian and
Armenian artist Mardiros Saryan. Is it possible they captured and interjected
into the agenda the visions and dreams of a people? Is it through their
provided inspiration that a man such as His Holiness Vazken I was elected as
chief bishop? Maybe. Maybe not. But one thing is for certain: without vision
and dreams we cannot lift our functionality beyond the temporal plane.
As we prepare to elect a new Catholicos, may we refocus our attention to our
belief that the Church is ordained by God, established by Christ and moved by
the Holy Spirit. In the end, we have to put ambition aside and allow the power
of the Holy Spirit to guide the Church, if it is to remain a holy and living
institution. Only in this sense will we be true and worthy inheritors of the
Apostolic title.

Since the independence of Armenia, the relationship of churches, particularly
between the Vatican and Etchmiadzin, has been complicated by the so called
“invasion of denomination and cults” into Armenia.  For the benefit of Armenian
clergy and lay interested individuals, we present here the official word and
policy of the Vatican concerning Russia and the CIS, and hope that this will
contribute to the ongoing debate concerning the issue. –Editors of Window
The Vatican

Evangelization & Ecumenism  in the Former Soviet Union

General Principles and Practical Norms for Coordinating the Evangelizing
Activity and Ecumenical Commitment of the Catholic Church in Russia and in the
Other Countries of the C.I.S. by the
Pontifical Commission for Russia
In the course of June 1992, the Pontifical Commission for Russia issued to all
concerned the document reprinted here, offering principles and norms which must
guide the Catholic Church’s pastoral activity in the territories of the former
Soviet Union.


The church has received from Christ the mission of bringing the Gospel of
salvation to all peoples; as a messianic people, she has been “established by
Christ as a communion of life, love and truth; by him too she has been taken up
as the instrument of salvation for all, and sent forth to the whole world as
the light of the world and the salt of the earth (cf. Mt 5:13-16)” (Lumen
Gentium, 9).
As the sacrament of the communion between God and men, the Church is a sign
and leaven of the unity of humanity.  She invites everyone to benefit from the
abundance of God’s gifts, which derive from Christ’s redemptive sacrifice and
from the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, who renews the face of the earth.  In
carrying out the mission entrusted to her by Christ, the Catholic Church
encounters other communities which also have their point of reference in
Christ, and in particular the Orthodox Churches, with whom she share a great
part of the ecclesial heritage.
Those to whom the Gospel message is addressed in one and the same area do not
all receive it in the same way:  there are faithful who are members of the
Catholic church, brothers and sisters from other Christian denominations and
traditions, and traditions, and there are also those who although they have
received that message have not made it their own but have become non-believers
or atheists.  The concern of the Catholic Church is directed to all, in
accordance with their individual circumstances.
The Directives issued in this document concern the particular situations of
the territories of the former Soviet Union and of Eastern Europe, and take into
consideration the centuries-old presence of the Orthodox Church and the painful
history of those peoples under the Communist r‚gime.  State norms concerning
religious freedom now allow the Churches to carry out their mission with a
renewed sense of responsibility, not only toward those who suffered persecution
but also toward those who are seeking the truth and the means of salvation.  It
is not in competition but in a shared esteem for the unity willed by Christ
that Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church are called upon to carry out their
mission, and to do so in such a way that their witness, both in each one’s own
activities and in joint undertakings, will respond fully to the will of Christ,
who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, respecting the conscience of every
individual as well as the free distribution of the charisms of the Holy Spirit.
I.  General Principles
Reorganization of hierarchy
1. After 70 years of official atheism in the territories of the former Soviet
Union, the Catholic communities of the Latin, Byzantine and Armenian rites are
in particular need of a new evangelization.
This need has prompted a careful reorganization of the local hierarchy, with
the appointment of bishops or apostolic administrators for the Latin
communities of Belorus, Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine (*a), the recognition
and the missio canonica  of bishops of the Ukrainian Byzantine-rite Catholic
Church who had been clandestinely ordained, the erection of the Ordinariate for
Armenian Catholics.
Right and duty to provide spiritual care
2.  The bishops and the apostolic administrators thus have the right and the
duty to provide for the spiritual needs of the Catholics entrusted to their
pastoral care.  They must concern themselves with ensuring the presence of a
priest in the various communities, so that even the numerically smaller ones
can at least occasionally have the assistance of a priest for the celebration
of the Eucharist and other sacraments, and can receive the religious
instruction they need.
Indeed, Saint Paul’s remark in his letter to the Romans remains as valid as
ever:  “But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And
how are they to believe in him whom they have never heard? And how are they to
hear without a preacher? …Faith come from what is heard, and what is heard
comes by the preaching of Christ” (Rom 10:14–17).
In order to carry out this work of evangelization, until such time as there is
an adequately trained local clergy, the bishops and apostolic administrators
should try to obtain necessary cooperation from episcopal conferences and
Religious Orders in other countries.  They should also pay due attention to the
linguistic needs of their communities, so as to respect the rights, including
the religious rights, of the ethnic minorities present in the countries of the
With regard to the Oriental rite communities, consideration can be given to
the possibility of calling upon the assistance of bi-ritual priests whenever
the priests of the local rite are not sufficient.  Such priests should be
well-instructed not only in the liturgy but also in the traditions and
sensibilities of the Church they are sent to serve.
Proper apostolic structures
3.  The apostolic structures which the bishops and apostolic administrators
organize in the territories entrusted to them are meant to respond to the needs
of the Catholic communities present in those territories.  They are in no way
intended to bring the Catholic Church into competition with the Russian
Orthodox Church or with other Christian Churches present in the same territory.
So-called proselytism, meaning the exercise of any sort of pressure on
people’s consciences, what ever form it may take and by whoever it may be
practised, is completely different from the apostolate and it is certainly not
the method used by the Pastors of the Catholic Church.  In this regard the
Second Vatican Ecumenical Council solemnly teaches that “the Church strictly
forbids that anyone should be forced to accept the faith, or be induces by
unworthy devices” (Ad Gentes, 13)
Unity in faithfulness
4.  Apostolic activity in the territories of the C.I.S. and Eastern Europe
requires of Catholics both fidelity to their own mission and a true concern for
their Orthodox brothers and sisters, with respect for the latter’s faith, so
that they can join with them in preparing for the ecclesial unity willed by
Christ.  In short, it is a question of bringing about that unity in the truth
for which Christ prayed (cf. apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 54).
This preparation for the unity which is so greatly desired will be carried out
by developing fraternal trust between the bishops, priests and faithful of the
two Churches.
Respect for religious freedom
5.  In full respect for religious freedom, which is an inalienable right of
every person, bishops and priests will take care to consider attentively the
motives of those who ask to enter the Catholic Church.  Such people must also
be made aware of their obligations toward their own community of origin.
The Declaration on Religious Liberty (Dignitatis Humanae) issued by the Second
Vatican Ecumenical Council represents for the Catholic Church a fundamental
document in this regard.  Whenever the opportunity arises, it will be good to
recall these principles, and to invite everyone to respect the religious choice
of each believer.
Commitment to ecumenism
6.  Every Catholic is well aware the “the Church is of its very nature
missionary” (Ad Gentes, 2).  But every Catholic is likewise aware that the
commitment to promote Christian unity is part of that mission of proclaiming to
the world the Good News of salvation in Christ, in the unity of the one Body,
one baptism and one faith.
For this reason, the apostolic activity of the Catholic Church in the
territories of the C.I.S. must now more than ever have an ecumenical dimension.
It must in every way promote dialogue between Christians in the light of the
principles affirmed by the Second Vatican Council and the related
post-conciliar documents, and it must constitute for the institutions of the
Catholic Church a pastoral priority in the territories of the C.I.S.  In fact,
the way to achieve Christian unity is certainly not proselytism but rather
fraternal dialogue between the followers of Christ — a dialogue foster by
prayer and developed in charity, with the aim of reestablishing that full
communion between the Byzantine Church and the Church of Rome which existed in
the first millennium.  This dialogue must take place as much on the local level
as on the regional and universal levels, and its purpose is to promote mutual
trust, in such a way that all Christians of different denominations can
cooperate in certain apostolic, social and cultural undertakings, in order “the
word of God may run on triumph” (2 Thess 3:1).
By acknowledging each other as members of Churches which preserve a great part
of the common heritage — sacramental, liturgical, spiritual and theological —
Catholics and Orthodox can bear common witness to Christ before a world which
yearns for its own unity.  The common heritage is such as to favor common
activity, with respect for the traditions proper to each.
Recognizing Orthodox traditions
7.  It is of course true that the activity of the Catholic Church in the
territories of the C.I.S., which are so deeply imbued with the presence and the
activity of the Orthodox and Armenian traditions, needs to be conducted in ways
which differ substantially from those of the mission ad gentes.
In particular, Latin Catholics must not forget the special circumstances of
the birth and growth of the Churches of the East, the liturgical and spiritual
tradition of the Orientals, and their great love for the Mother of God, As the
Holy Father said in his message Magnum Baptismi Donum of  14 February 1988 to
Ukrainian  Catholics on the occasion of the millennium of the baptism of the
Kievan Rus’, “the [Second Vatican] Council emphasized the great values of the
liturgical, spiritual, disciplinary and theological traditions found in these
Churches, as well as their tight and duty to live those traditions, which
pertain to the full catholicity and apostolicity of the Church” (No 6; AAS 80
[1988] pp 993f.).
The Latin-rite Catholic Church in those lands must therefore hold in great
esteem the Eastern traditions which are deeply rooted in them, and particularly
those of the Orthodox Church.  Having herself emerged from a long period of
persecution, difficulties and conditionings of every kind, the Orthodox church
is now faced with the challenge of a new evangelization of traditionally
Orthodox peoples who have been brought up in atheism.
Therefore, in fraternal dialogue with the local bishops of the Orthodox Church
and with full respect for the citizens’ religious confession, the Pastors of
the Lain Church should try to promote cooperation with the Orthodox Church in
all areas where this is possible, so that everyone may become clearly aware of
the unity in charity which must reign between the two Churches, as a prelude to
full ecclesial communion.
The Oriental Churches in communion with the Apostolic See of Rome,
particularly the Catholic Church of the Ukrainian Byzantine-rite, are reminded
by the Second Vatican Council that they have “the special responsibility of
furthering the unity of all Christians, especially Eastern Christians,
according to the principles of the Synod’s decree on ecumenism, firstly with
prayers, then by the examples of their life, religious fidelity toward ancient
eastern traditions, better mutual understanding, working together and a
sensitive appreciation of realities and feelings” (Orientalium Ecclesiarum 24).
Catholic-Orthodox tensions
8.  Unfortunately, the process of reorganizing the Catholic Church in the
countries of the C.I.S. has been accompanied by tensions with the Orthodox
This has occurred in Ukraine, particularly in the matter of the assignment of
places of worship, following the recognition of freedom of conscience by evil
authorities of the former USSR and the consequent recognition of the Byzantine
rite Catholic Church, which had been suppressed in 1946 (*b).
One certainly cannot consider as “proselytism” the fact that entire
communities, headed by their priests, which during the years of suppression and
persecution of the “Greek-Catholic” Catholic were forced, in order to survive,
to declare themselves Orthodox, have now, having regained their freedom,
manifested their membership of the “Greek-Catholic” Church.  It is a matter of
free initiative on the part of people who before 1946 had openly professed
their Catholic faith.
Nevertheless the disputes over places of worship have been a painful incident
along the path of ecumenism.
The Holy See, in agreement with the Moscow Patriarchate, had tried to prevent
this, and in January 1990 had laid down guidelines which should have ensured a
peaceful distribution of places of worship, Unfortunately, this step was not
successful, due to local conditions inherited from the recent past.  But
responsibility for the failure of the work undertaken by the “Quadripartite
Commission” cannot be imputed to one of the parties alone.
Today there still remain situations of uneasiness and tension, and the
exhortation addressed by the Holy Father on 31 May 1991 to the Bishops of
Europe remains valid:  “All must be convinced that also in cased such as these
disputes over relatively contingent and practical matters, dialogue still
remains the best instrument for embarking upon a fraternal exchange which aims
at settling the issue in a spirit of justice, charity and forgiveness” (Letter
of Pope John Paul II to the Bishops of Europe on relations between Catholics
and Orthodox in the new situation of Central and Eastern Europe, 2).
II. Practical Directives
In the light of the principles stated above, and with a view to dispelling the
apprehensions which have arisen in the Orthodox church and to reestablishing
the mutual trust essential for an authentic ecumenical dialogue between the two
Churches on the local and international levels, the following practical
guidelines are issued:

II. Practical Directives
In the light of the principles stated above, and with a view to dispelling the
apprehensions which have arisen in the Orthodox church and to reestablishing
the mutual trust essential for an authentic ecumenical dialogue between the two
Churches on the local and international levels, the following practical
guidelines are issued:
Promoting cooperation
1.  The bishops and apostolic administrators in the territories of their
competence should make efforts to promote the sound ecumenical training of all
pastoral agents (priests, men and women Religious and laity), so that everyone
will develop an “ecumenical mentality” in conformity with the principles
enunciated by the Second Vatican Council and in conformity with the directives
of the Holy See, with due regard for their own experiences (cf. Code of Canons
of the Eastern Church [CCEO], can 904).
They should also promote in every way a good understanding with the local
authorities of the Orthodox church, appreciating the difficulties which the
latter is experiencing, in order to help create a climate of trust and peaceful
cooperation.  Even if reasons for opposition existed in the past, they should
remind the faithful that only conversion of heart, with sincere forgiveness of
those who have offended them, enables them to call themselves real followers of
In cases where such understanding might prove difficult, the bishops and
apostolic administrators should make a point of informing the papal
representative and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and,
in cases falling within their competence, the other offices of the Roman Curia.
In fact, the cooperation of these higher authorities can offer considerable
help in resolving particular cases, which can be discussed with the Moscow
Patriarchate or with the central authorities of other Churches.
No “parallel structures”
2.  The bishops and apostolic administrators, who are responsible for and
guarantee all pastoral initiatives aimed at promoting the religious life of the
Catholic communities, must take care to ensure that no activity undertaken
within their ecclesiastical circumscriptions can be easily misconstrued as a
“parallel structure of evangelization'(*c).  In this regard, canon 905 of the
Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches prescribes that both false ecumenism and
“immoderate zeal” are to be avoided.
In conformity with the provisions of Church law (CIC, can 394 1; CCEO, can
203), priests, Religious and members of lay movements who wish to exercise an
apostolate in the countries of the C.I.S.. must act in close cooperation with
and in dependence upon the local ordinaries, refraining from any undertaking
that has not been previously approved by the same ordinaries and scrupulously
respecting the directives which, obviously, within the limits of their own
jurisdiction, the ordinaries have issued.
Should situations of grave difficulty occur, they are to inform the papal
representative and the Apostolic See without delay.
Informing the Orthodox
3.  Also for the sake of promoting a harmonious coexistence with the Orthodox
Church and in order to give proof of the openness which should exist in all the
pastoral initiatives of the Catholic Church, the bishops and apostolic
administrators are to inform the ordinaries of the Orthodox Church of all
important pastoral initiatives, particularly those regarding the erection of
new parishes intended to meet the needs of local Catholic communities.
The Holy See is certain that the Orthodox bishops, who share the same concern
for evangelization with regard to their own faithful, will be happy to promote
the spiritual assistance of the Catholic communities existing in the
territories of their diocese, also by restoring churches to the Oriental or
Latin Catholic communities where the latter are still deprived of them.
However, should there be as a result of particular circumstances conflicting
opinions regarding the appropriateness of a pastoral initiative which a bishop
or apostolic administrator considers necessary for the spiritual good of a
group of the Catholic faithful, even a small one, the bishop or apostolic
administrator, having exhausted the means of dialogue mentioned above, may act
in accordance with his conscience, inasmuch as he is the one responsible before
God for the spiritual life of each and every individual member of the Catholic
Church.  For more serious questions, he will take care to consult the papal
representative and the competent departments of the Roman Curia.
Cooperation in pastoral initiatives
4.  Should circumstances permit, the pastors of the Catholic Church, out of
missionary zeal and concern for the evangelization of millions of people who do
not yet know Christ, should endeavor to cooperate with the Orthodox bishops in
developing pastoral initiatives of the Orthodox church.  They should be pleased
if by their contribution they can help to train good Christians.
Social initiatives
5.  It is appropriate to bring to the attention of the authorities of the
Orthodox church the initiatives of a social character (educational, charitable,
etc.) which institutions of the Catholic Church in Western countries may be
invited to undertake as a contribution to the common good of the countries of
the C.I.S. or of Eastern Europe.
When it is the State or a civic body that requests the cooperation of
Religious Orders and of other agencies juridically dependent on the Catholic
hierarchy, charity demands that the competent authorities of the Orthodox
communities should be informed of this, even if it can be presumed that these
same civic bodies have done so on their own.
Informing the Patriarchate
6.  Should priests or bishops from other nations be invited by State agencies
(cultural, scientific, etc.) to attend certain particular events, courtesy
dictates that this should be brought to the attention of the Orthodox or
Armenian Patriarchate.  Similarly, when a senior Orthodox figure is invited to
take part in an event promoted by the Catholic Church in the territories of the
C.I.S., it will be appropriate to give prior notice to the Patriarchate.
Pastoral attention to ethnic minorities
7.  The bishops and apostolic administrators should take care to ensure the
celebration of the sacraments in the languages spoken by the ethnic minorities
in the different countries.  This does not necessarily mean that liturgical
assemblies will be turned into factors of division of instruments of militant
nationalism.  At the same time, the bishops and apostolic administrators are to
promote the integration of minorities present either permanently or temporarily
into the dominant social context of the countries accepting them, without this
involving the loss of their own identity.  for all Catholics, in fact,
diversity offers an opportunity to share the treasures of others.
Places of worship
8.  The place of worship necessary for the liturgical and ecclesial life of
the Christian communities must respond to the latter’s needs, which arise from
the personal right to exercise — individually or in groups — the religious
acts of one’s own faith.  These needs depend on local conditions:  The
importance of the community, material possibilities, pastoral care.  Priority
for the distribution of already existing places of worship depends on the
proportion — numerical as well as social and historical — of the faithful
living in a particular place.  If is a matter of erecting a new building care
must betaken to determine whether such a building is needed, before requesting
the necessary agreement of the diocesan bishop (CIC, can 1215 1; CCEO, can
870).  It will sometimes be advisable to provide for the common use of the same
place of worship, after an agreement has been reached between the Catholic and
Orthodox communities or other Christian denominations; this agreement is to be
submitted to the approval of the respective hierarchical authorities.
The preaching of the Gospel to all creation cannot ignore the great
commandment of love, for Jesus says:  “By this all men will know that you are
my disciples, if your have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).  The means, ways
and methods put forward here for the Catholic communities are meant to help
them to respond with complete openness to this vocation and grace:  to be
witnesses to the unity willed by Christ.
All are called upon to renew the spirit of communion promoted by the Second
Vatican Ecumenical Council, so that the fraternal relations which should exist
between Christ’s disciples can lead to full communion of faith and charity.  In
this there way there will be banished “all feeling of rivalry or strife”
(Unitatis Redinegratio, 18), and once the wall dividing the Western from the
Eastern Church is removed there will finally be single dwelling-place, solidly
established upon the cornerstone, Christ Jesus, who will make them both one.

English text  as issued by the Pontifical Commission for Russia. Title and
additional paragraph subtitles by Catholic International. Source: Catholic
International, October 1992, Vol. 3, No. 18.


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Thank you for your continued support of Window.
Dear Editors:
Thank you for the Window quarterly. Aside from the usual component of
information, it more importantly presents a fresh view of the Armenian Church
and the loud cry for a more Christ-centered Church.
My late husband, Martin, and I have continually prayed for the work toward
that goal — the return of Christ to the hearts of our people and particularly
our clergy. Only with a spiritual revival will our Church grow, unify,
experience true Christian love and fellowship, and ultimately proclaim the
Gospel of Salvation to all without negative labels.
I particularly concur with Fr. Vazken Movsesian’s views in the last issue on
the “Denial” that exists in our Church. We have tried to put a bandage upon our
wounds instead of looking to the Great Physician, Jesus Christ.
There are many in my community who feel as I do and will be happy to hear that
we do not stand alone; and that men and women around the country, such as you,
share our mission. In fact, many are surprised that a publication such as
Window is available.
May God continue to give you the boldness and courage to defend and proclaim
the true mission of the Armenian Church.
–Violet Keishian Cholakian, Troy, MI

Dear Editors:
I enjoyed Fr. Vazken’s “Ending Denial” editorial in the last Window. I agree
with your overall assessment of the situation — there are a lot of empty
churches, low memberships, decreasing donations and apathy. Meanwhile, too many
of our leaders react by large spending on publicity and constructing or
renovating buildings, which hide the problems. A few leaders appear to prefer
the churches to be relatively empty, because this is easier to manage. Sadly,
many church veterans strongly support the status quo while subtly telling their
children and grandchildren not to be involved in the Armenian Church.
The editorial noted that the Church is struggling without a vision for the
future. Interestingly, at the same time, some church leaders have very clear
and ambitious visions for themselves and work actively, using church financial
and human resources, to realize these personal goals. Of course, meanwhile, the
Church as a while suffers.
However, there is hope for the future if enough people make a realistic
assessment of the situation, share goals and aspirations for the
Armenian–American Christian community, and invite God to do His will among us.
Window is promoting this hope. I wish Window continued success in the fourth
year, in providing an honest forum to stimulate our thinking.
–Dean V. Shahinian, Esq.
Mt. Vernon, VA
The Deaconess

in the Armenian Church

A Brief Survey

Fr. Abel Oghlukian
(translated from the Armenian by S. Peter Cowe)

The issue of bestowing the diaconate on women is not a novel phenomenon in the
Armenian Church. Since at least the eleventh century this office developed
steadily in several fairly clear stages. Its focus in lively contemporary
debate is rather connected with discussion of the principle of legal equality
between men and women in our social and societal contexts. If women have
achieved striking advances in political, economic, educational and cultural
fields, the question arises as to what their proper place is in church, what
premises can be found in tradition for extending their scope for service,
facilitating and properly evaluating their work for the church. These are the
subjects the present study addresses.
It is hoped that readers will find in the proposals of this survey material
for broad-minded, unbiased consideration to assist Armenian women with a
calling in committed diaconal service to Christ as established in the Armenian
— Fr. Abel Oghlukian

Fr. Abel Oghlukian, Ph.D., is currently the Vicar General of the Diocese of the
Armenian Church of Canada. He has been an assistant professor at the Institute
of Oriental Studies, University of Vienna and is a lecturer in Dogmatic
Theology at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary.

Past Windows you may have missed

Window Vol. I, No. 1  Premier issue
The first issue of Window is an eight-page introduction that sets the tone and
scope of this “new” publication.    It consists of three articles written by
the editors and a translation of Patriarch Torkom Kushagian’s “Revival in the
Armenian Church.”

Window Vol. I, No. 2 “Armenian Theology of Liberation”
This issue provides a series of articles in search of an Armenian theology of
Liberation, stimulating discussion and dialogue between Armenian church members
and theologians.  The issue provides a descriptive and interpretive study of
the subject and underlines its application in the Armenian Church.

Window Vol. I, No. 3 “1915–The Year the Church Died”
This entire issue is dedicated to the martyred clergy of the Armenian Church
during the Genocide of 1915.  With this issue, Window turns the views of its
readers back 75 years and provides a glimpse of the pre-Genocide Armenian
Church.  For the first time in the English language, the monumental work of
Teotig–a scribe who tediously recorded the lives of the martyrdom of the
Armenian clergy–is presented with statistical and analytical charts. Addressed
in this issue are the issue of remembrance, the problem of canonization of the
victims and the silence of Church leadership concerning religious treasures.

Window Vol. I, No. 4 “Is the collar choking the Priest?”
This issue discusses the role for the Armenian priest from the perspective of
both the Armenian community and the Church.  In doing so, it dispels some of
the stereotypes and myths associated with the Armenian clergy.  Issues such as
reform, recruitment, and contemporary challenges to the church are discussed in
a very sincere and open forum.

Window Vol. II, No. 1 “Cults in Armenia”
In an attempt to educated the Armenian community on the dangers of cults, this
issue provides an extensive coverage of cults presently operating in Armenia.
The deep psychological wounds caused by the 1988 earthquake have facilitated
the infiltration of various cults into Armenia under false pretenses.  This
issue of Window poses a challenge to the Armenian community and the Church, by
the fact that “the cults will do what we neglect! They will extend where we
cannot reach! They will be heard where our voice is silent.”

Window Vol. II, No. 2 “International conference of Armenian clergy”
The first ever International Conference of Armenian Clergy held in New York,
June 17-21, 1991 is covered with exclusive interviews and analysis by the
Window editors.   An inside view of the conference is provided.    Detailed
information about the current situation in Armenia by the directors and leaders
of the Center for the Propagation of Faith. Candid and alarming revelations
regarding the religious awakening in Armenia and the Church’s ability (or
inability) to provide for the needs of the people.  Must reading for anyone
concerned with the current and future state of the Armenian Church in Armenia
and the diaspora.

Window Vol. II, No. 3 “Are All Brands the Same?”
This issue of Window explores the Armenian Protestant and Roman Catholics
churches, providing a history of their development and place within the
Armenian Community.  A candid discussion of possible means of reapprochement is
provided.  Also, the place of the Armenian Church within the world Church
community is explored with statements by the Orthodox Churches and reflections
concerning the cost of unity.  This issue is filled with facts and information.
A map of religions is provided as a centerpiece to this important volume.

The understanding of myths and their place in religious perception is the theme
of this issue, especially as it is applied in the Armenian Church and
community.  The main article gives an excellent definition and explanation of
what Myth is.  Of particular interest is a discussion of Vah‚ Oshagan and the
controversy surrounding a piece of his writing, entitled Odzoom. Also, two
articles discuss services in the liturgical tradition of the Armenian Church,
namely Blessing of Madagh and Chrismation.

This issue presents a series of interviews conducted in Armenia, which give a
general view of the state of the church and religion in the post-soviet
Republic of Armania. There are conversations with the Catholicos,
representatives of Armenian political parties; Armenian “skinheads,” and others
who are closely invoved with the church. The guest editorial is written by
Bishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Armenian Church of Canada.

Window Vol. III, No. 2  “Hypocrisy”
Hypocrisy is among those topics that are normally avoided in church life.
However, in this issue, ordained and lay workers in the church candidly write
about their  experiences in the Armenian Church and share their thoughts about
hypocrisy in the community. While the contributors discuss various aspects of
church life, they provide practical suggestions and programs that could tackle
some of the burning issues in the Armenian Church.

Window Vol. III, No. 3 & 4   “Death: The Kevorkian Factor”
Death and Dying, Euthanasia and assisted suicide are among the main topics of
this issue.  The articles discuss the issues in the context of the controversy
of assisted suicide that became a matter of public debate, especially through
the actions of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, or “Doctor Death” as he became known by the
American media.

Window Vol. IV, No.1 “Theology of War: Karabakh”
The main focus of this issue is the religious revival in Nagorno-Karabakh,
despite the war in the region. Two significant interviews-with the Primate of
the Diocese of Karabakh and the Editor of Kantzasar Theological Journal – are
the highlights of this issue.

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Window Vol. IV, No. 2
copyright 1994 ACRAG