VATICAN CITY (VIS)—Pope Francis sent a message to Bishop Gregoire Ghabroyan, administrator of the Patriarchate of Cilicia of the Armenians, for the funeral of His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, who died on June 25, according to the Vatican Information Service.
The Pope’s message was read during the funeral of the late Armenian Catholic leader’s ceremony by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches at the Cathedral of St. Elie and St. Gregory the Illuminator in Beirut. It read as follows.
It is with great sadness that I have learned of the return to the house of the Father of our beloved brother in Christ, His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians. I conserve in my heart the memory of my encounter with him, accompanied by the bishops of the Synod and the faithful of this Patriarchal Church, on the occasion of the commemoration of the victims of the Metz Yegern and the proclamation of St. Gregory of Narek as as Doctor of the universal Church. It was as if these events lived in the vicinity of the relics of the apostle St. Peter had marked the long and faithful journey of your ‘Caput et Pater’, revealing some of his most characteristic aspects.
He was, above all, deeply rooted on the Rock that is Christ. He held that the most valuable treasure that a bishop is called upon to minister to is the faith that comes from apostolic preaching. His Beatitude spared nothing in ensuring its dissemination, especially by promoting the continuing formation of the clergy so that, even in difficult contexts, the ministers of God renew their adhesion to Christ, the sole hope and consolation for humanity.
He dedicated himself to ensuring that the just commemoration of the sufferings of the Armenian people throughout their history become an action of God’s grace considering the example of martyrs and witnesses, and at the same time obtained from Him the balm of consolation and reconciliation, which alone may heal the deepest wounds of souls and of peoples.
Patriarch Nerses was finally able to rejoice with the Armenian people at the elevation of St. Gregory of Narek to the luminous title of Doctor of the Church. His Beatitude wished the spiritual influence of this great saint be an example for pastors and faithful, convinced that through St. Gregory of Narek everyone can experience the wonders that the Lord is able to achieve in the heart that opens up to Him in daily simplicity and humility, and in solidarity with the drama of humanity, through ceaseless intercession.
Invited to perpetuate this triple heritage left to us by Patriarch Nerses, we implore the Holy Spirit to continue to renew the face of the Armenian Catholic Church, through the commitment of pastors and faithful, and we also entrust to the Father of all Mercy the labours , linked to the the limits and weaknesses of the condition of the pilgrims on their way to the eternal homeland.
Catholicos Nerses Bedors XIX was elected and enthroned Catholicos-Patriarch of Armenian Catholics in 1999. He held the position until his passing this year.