Troubles Continue in Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate

ISTANBUL (Hurriyet Daily news)–Confusion over the leadership of Turkey’s Armenian Patriarchate is continuing to create problems for the community as the church’s spiritual center has ignored a request by the acting patriarch to appoint a new archbishop.

Archbishop Atesyan, the acting patriarch, recently applied to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin in Armenia to elevate Bishop Tatoul Anoushian to the position of archbishop but church authorities said the move was a contravention of canon law.

“The rules are clear and all Armenian Apostolic churches and clerics in the world know them,” Bishop Sebouh Chouldjian recently told the Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review on behalf of the Armenian Apostolic Church Diocese of Gougark and the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. “As a cleric, [Atesyan] knows very well the rules of our holy house.”

According to Church rules, the patriarch himself must make a request for higher clerical positions in writing. Etchmiadzin has not responded to the request because it was not in accordance to Church regulations, according to Chouldjian.

Current Patriarch Mesrob II suffers from dementia and is unable to perform his duties.

The bishop said the Turkish Armenian Patriarchate abides by the same canon law, which states that the patriarch must directly apply to the Etchmiadzin office by writing a formal letter. After this, the letter is submitted to the Spiritual Committee and the decision is made there.

The Patriarchate in Turkey said it would not make any statement for the moment.

The core reason for the problem is the prevention of an election in the Patriarchate. After it became clear that Mesrob II’s illness would not allow him to fulfill his duties as patriarch, an initiating committee composed of the community’s lay leaders and representatives of the Patriarchate found themselves in disagreement.

The Patriarchate said that under Armenian Church rules, as long as Mesrob II remains alive, there can be no election for a new patriarch, adding that the holy house could only choose a co-patriarch.

However, the lay committee opted to vote for a new spiritual leader. When negotiations fell apart, the Turkish Interior Ministry surprisingly intervened, appointing the Spiritual Committee’s president, Archbishop Ateşyan, as acting patriarch.

“According to Armenian Apostolic Church rules, the post [of acting patriarch] does not exist,” Bishop Chouldjian told the Daily News. “Unfortunately, the Patriarchate did not manage the process well and now it has turned into a Gordian knot.”


Related posts

Discussion Policy

Comments are welcomed and encouraged. Though you are fully responsible for the content you post, comments that include profanity, personal attacks or other inappropriate material will not be permitted. Asbarez reserves the right to block users who violate any of our posting standards and policies.


  1. HyeGuy said:

    I think someone is confused. Tatoul Anoushian is a Vartabed, not a Bishop. I think the request was made to Holy Etchmiadzin to elevate him to BISHOP, not ARCHbishop.

  2. Ed said:

    Typical Armenian behaviour – resulting in Muslim Turks (!) appointing a Christian Patriarch. Shame on us Armenians…

  3. Araxi said:

    How can an man with dimentia make a request for anything?
    I think Etchmiadzin is suffering from dimentia.
    I think the Cathoghicos is a member of The World Council of Churches.
    Read Dr. John Coleman

    • Araxi said:

      Alternatively, google
      Dr.John Coleman the Secrets of the 300 committee.
      Չանաչեք ձեր թշնամուն, ով Հայ Ժողովուրդ:

    • A Hye said:

      I will take this line by line
      1. He can’t request anything because he does have some sort of dementia.
      2. Why do you feel it necessary to insult the Holy center of our Church?
      3. Yes Holy Etchmiadzin along with the Greater House of Cilicia participates in the world Council of churches…what has this got to do with anything??

      4. Who the H..ll is John Coleman?? Oh yes this is a world wide conspiracy to not elevate Hayr Tatoul to Bishop.

      Looks like dementia might be spreading…

  4. Stepan said:

    This situation is very sad. There are plenty of challenges confronting the Patriachate without a leadership crisis. Aside from the conformance issue to canon law the disunity of our leaders allow the Turkish government to exploit this situation as some sort of benevolent mediator. Just look at how the Turks tried to turn the Aghtamar event into a Turkish Armenians are loyal verses the rest of the diaspora and Armenia. We have a poor history of cooperation(I’ll avoid the word unity) over the decades, but as the stakes get higher(look at what is going on with Armenians today verses 30-40 years ago) , it is imperative that we all subordinate ourselves to the greater good of the Armenian people….. especially when we open the door for exploitation. This is our sacred church… not some political toy.

    • manooshag said:

      Stepan, True. At least now we know where the Armenian Assembly has been over the years, with the USA State Department. Too, the so-called Armenian Genocide Museum in Washington DC (?) Manooshag