Calls for Catholicos Election Postponement Mount

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan–RFE/RL)–In the wake of a rather disenchanting and tense atmosphere created on the eve of the Catholicosal elections–scheduled for next week–several political activists and intellectuals have urged that calls for postponing the elections be addressed calmly and maturely.

Armenian Revolutionary Federation Executive Council of Armenia member Gegham Manoukian stated that a schism is evident within the clerical elite regarding the elections.

He called that rift unhealthy and reiterated the party’s call to postpone the National Ecclesiastical Assembly and the subsequent election of a new Catholicos of All Armenia’s.

Manoukian stressed that although His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia announced last month that he would not seek the position of the Catholicos of All Armenia’s–nonetheless–such a statement would have merit only if it is made during the National Ecclesiastical Assembly.

On Tuesday–Manoukian’s colleague Hrant Markarian expressed the party’s position on the upcoming elections and said that Aram I would be the best candidate if the two Sees are to unite in the near future.

Manoukian added that Aram I has been the only cleric who did not partake in argumen’s over the election of a Catholicos and has stayed away from discussions which have created the rift within the religious elite.

Other political parties such as the Democratic Party of Armenia and the National Democratic Union have also joined in the call for the postponement of the elections.

NDU leader Vazgen Manukian said Archbishop Nerses Pozapalian should continue to temporarily head the church jointly with a council of leading bishops "for a couple of years."The council would shape new rules and internal life of the church with the aim of creating a healthier atmosphere," Manukian told RFE/RL.

"It is unfortunate that the elections of Catholicos are beginning to resemble elections already familiar to us," Manukian said referring to post-Soviet Armenia’s history of troubled polls.

Manukian indicated that he sees no cleric at the moment who could match charisma of the late Catholicos Vazgen I–who died in 1995 after four decades at the helm of the Apostolic Church.

Meanwhile–noted poetess and intellectual leader Silva Kaputikian also added her concerns to the mix–saying that the current disharmony and schismatic climate will hinder the Armenian church and the best way to elect a Catholicos that is truly of All Armenia’s–is to postpone the pending elections.

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