President Speaks At Catholicos Funeral

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Armenian President Robert Kocharian gave a speech at the funeral of Catholicos of All Armenia’s Karekin I. Below is the text of the speech provided by the presidential press service:

"Dear compatriots and guests,

"The entire Armenian nation is in mourning today. We are committing the body of the Supreme Patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church–131st Catholicos of All Armenia’s Karekin I to the earth and his bright soul is on the way to divine rest and immortality.

"His Holiness was one of the few catholicoses to ascend to the Throne of St. Gregory the Illuminator in conditions of an independent Armenian statehood. He entered upon this holy mission with an 18-year experience of leading the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia–a world-wide celebrity status and a high international prestige.

"Although his tenure at the Mother See of St. Etchmiadzin was a short one–each day of it was very fruitful. His Holiness led the Armenian Apostolic Church with great wisdom and dedication during the history-making period for our country. He was convinced that political independence would bring about a spiritual rebirth of the Armenian people.

"He directed his infinite vigor and effort at implanting love–belief and hope among the Armenia’s and promoting spiritual revival. The Catholicos worked at realizing of these goals with the patience and consistency of a sage. Theological seminaries boosted their activities–numerous churches and cloisters were reconstructed–new ones were built–and some diocese were re-established.

"During his pastoral visits–the Catholicos bestowed his blessing on our faithful Diasporan brothers in all dioceses in all corners of the world and in the Homeland.

"His Holiness used his high prestige to stimulate ecumenical activities of the Mother See of St. Etchmiadzin and strengthen ties with fraternal churches as well as with the World Council of Churches.

"The researches of His Holiness on Armenology–theology–philosophy and ethics–numerous books published in Armenian and in foreign languages–and literary works are an integral part of our spiritual culture and eternal values of our spiritual motherland. Numerous universities of the world and religious and scientific establishmen’s awarded him honorary doctorship as being a great thinker enjoying high international prestige and in acknowledgment of his exceptional spiritual and scientific services.

"Throughout his activities–Karekin I defended the national and human rights of his people at prestigious international events and spared no effort to see his aspirations and goals come true. He was a religious and national figure who put the word and cause of his life on the scale of historical justice.

"His Holiness viewed the 1700th anniversary of the adoption of Christianity as a state religion in Armenia as a unique opportunity to revive Christian traditions among the entire Armenian nation–and especially in the Republic of Armenia.

"The high image of His Holiness Karekin I as a great scientist–theologist–and patriot will always stay in the memory of the Armenian people."

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