Aram I Meets Leaders of Armenian Catholic and Evangelical Churches

ANTELIAS, Lebanon–His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Monday met with the spiritual leaders of the Armenian Catholic and Evangelical Churches during two separate meetings. Very Rev. Father Norayr Ashekian, Very Rev. Father Krikor Chiftjian, along with Catholicosate Central Executive Council member Tsolag Tutelian accompanied the pontiff, reported the press office. The meeting with Patriarch Nerses Bedros Tarmouni XIX was held in the presence of several Armenian Catholic Bishops and priests. His Holiness then met Rev. Meguerditch Karageozian, President of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East. The President of Haigazian University, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian as well as several Evangelical pastors and community leaders also attended. The main focus of the talks was the relationship between Armenia and the Diaspora particularly in light of the Third Armenia-Diaspora conference held this summer in Yerevan. The three spiritual leaders also discussed the importance of strengthening the Diaspora and reviving Armenian schools in particular. They reiterated the crucial importance of preserving the internal unity of the Armenian community of Lebanon. On these and other issues, all three highlighted the role of close cooperation between the Armenian Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical Churches and the adoption of united positions on issues of national concern. Following these two meetings, His Holiness made the following statement: "The main purpose of our meetings was the reinforcement of our internal national unity. There might be difference in our approaches and evaluations, but we consider that a natural phenomenon in the life of any nation. However, it is essential that our communities, our nation become united in basic issues affecting our life. Today more than ever, it is imperative that we gather around pan-national projects and visions. "The Armenian community of Lebanon should concretely prove that it has a unique role and place in the life of our nation in general and the Diaspora in particular. Therefore, the energizing of our institutions and in this context the revival of the Armenian school, the backbone of the Armenian community of Lebanon, should become a priority for all of us. The stronger an Armenian school becomes, the stronger an Armenian community becomes. "The Catholicosate of Cilicia, in cooperation with the Gulbenkian, Lincy and Khatchig Babikian foundations, are striving to keep the Armenian school strong in its educational mission. Financial assistance alone, however, is not enough. It is our expectation that Armenian parents send their children to Armenian schools. An Armenian school becomes truly an Armenian School when it is filled with Armenian students; when it conveys the Armenian language, religion and history as a spirit, faith and commitment to Armenian students, making them the pillar of Christian Armenian formation. Therefore, Christian education and Armenian education for us, are closely interconnected; they are two dimensions of one process," concluded Aram I’s statement. The Pontiff concluded by calling on the Lebanese Armenian Members of Parliament, parties and community leaders to work together for safeguarding the rights of the Lebanese Armenian community and for preserving the integrity and independence of Lebanon.

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