Church Leaders Decry Government Role in Catholicos Elections

YEREVAN–Several high-ranking leaders of the Holy See of Etchmiadzin issued a Pastoral Appeal Monday–decrying what they called involvement by government officials in the upcoming Catholicosal elections–scheduled to begin on Oct. 26 in Armenia.

Catholicosal Locum Tenens Archbishop Nerses Bozabalyan–Arch. Torkom Manoogian Patriarch of Jerusalem–Arch. Mesrob Mutafyan Patriarch of Istanbul–Arch. Tiran Kyureghyan–Primate of Russia–Arch. Pargev Martirosyan Primate of Artsakh and Arch. Khajag Barsamian Primate of the Eastern Diocese of North America signed the appeal urging all National Ecclesiastical Council delegates to not be swayed by what they deemed as undue interference by the government.

"Sadly–recent developmen’s clearly indicate that the higher echelons of the government of Armenia have arrived at a consensus in favor of one of the candidates in the upcoming election–and are employed in an effort to enthrone him as Catholicos. The moral and legal process of the election of the Catholicos of All Armenia’s has been thereby placed in jeopardy–with attendant consequences as yet unforeseen," the appeal revealed.

"This appeal expresses our urgent concern over this matter. We advise all to disengage themselves from actions that will surely disrupt the internal unity and tradition of our Church–and to conscientiously reassess the gravity of this matter and the seriousness of this occasion," urged the appeal.

"It is understandable that all levels of our community will show an interest in an election of the Catholicos of All Armenia’s. Notwithstanding this–secular powers–political parties–social organizations and individuals need to restrain themselves–display an objective approach–and refrain from any kind of intervention that would cast into question the normal process of the election," warned the appeal.

"We convey these words in the names of concerned bishops and members of brotherhoods–who are troubled about the future of our fatherland–our statehood–our people scattered throughout the world and our holy Church," concluded the appeal.

The Noyan Tapan news agency reported Tuesday that the Secretariat of the Holy See of Etchmiadzin acknowledged the existence of the appeal but did not take responsibility for its distribution. A similar message was conveyed by the Eastern US Diocese–when Asbarez contacted Public Affairs coordinator Christopher Zakian.

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