Arch. Hovsepian Denies Pressure from Authorities

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–No pressure was exerted by the authorities during preparations for the elections of the Catholicos–Head of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the United States–Archbishop Vache Hovsepian told Noyan Tapan.

His Eminence voiced confidence that the National Church Council which is due to begin on October 26 will be held in a peaceful atmosphere.

"There were improper speculations outside and I regret that the reputation of some clergymen has been undermined," Hovsepian noted–adding–however–that the meeting of the Supreme Spiritual Council and the session of bishops "were held in an atmosphere of love" and each could freely express his opinion. At the same time the Archbishop did not exclude that some bishops could give promises to support one or another candidate.

"I am sure that whoever is elected the Catholicos–he will be an object of our sincere and disinterested love and we all give ourselves a promise to respect the power of the Catholicos–submit to his orders and cooperate with him for the good of St. Etchmiadzin Holy See and the Armenian Church both in Armenia and abroad," Archbishop Hovsepian stressed.

Head of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the United States Archbishop Khajag Barsamian stressed that it is wrong when a person nominates himself. Citing Agatangeghos–a fifth century Armenian historian–he noted that when Gregory the Illuminator–the first Head of the Armenian Church–was offered to become the Catholicos–he refused–saying that he is not worth of such honor–but had to agree under the public pressure.

The most important quality of a clergyman–according to Barsamian–is the ability to talk to the people. He must enjoy people’s trust–for the Church is not its clergy–but "the flock which must be guided by a spiritual shepherd," His Eminence said.

Barsamian also noted the importance of re-training clergymen–stressing that during the Genocide and then–during the Soviet rule–the greater and better part of the Armenian clergy was eliminated and this gap has not been bridged.

According to Barsamian–this is the reason why after Armenia regained independence the Church failed to become an influential factor.

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