Armenian Church Leader Seeks Closer Ties to Rome

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Pope John Paul II will participate in an ecumenical liturgical celebration on November 10 along with Catholicos Karekin II Nersissian–the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The ceremony will take place in St. Peter’s Basilica–CWNews reported.

Elected on October 27–1999–Karekin II succeeded Karekin I–who died on June 29 of last year. The latter had become a very close friends and collaborators with Pope John Paul II–and together they had taken great strides to bridge the gulf that has distanced the Armenian Apostolic Church from the Holy Sea for 1500 years.

"Karekin II shows a clear desire to continue the dialogue with the Catholic Church–along the same lines as his predecessor," a Vatican statement said. "Since his election–he has expressed his intention to come to Rome to meet with the Pope."

Karekin II will arrive in Rome on November 8–and will meet privately with John Paul on November 9. During their formal liturgical celebration–the Pope will solemnly hand over the relics of St. Gregory the Illuminator–who brought the Gospel to Armenia early in the 4th century. These relics–which have been resting in a cathedral in Naples–will be placed in a the new St. Gregory church in Yerevan–which was built in celebration of the 1700th anniversary of the founding of Christianity in Armenia.

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