ANTELIAS–Lebanon–A conference dedicated to the Armenian Genocide was held at the Mother Cathedral of Antelias on Friday–April 6. Leaders of the Anglican Church of South Africa–who were invited by Catholicos Aram I–participated in the unique conference.
Bishop Hamilton Mvumelwano Dandala–Archbishop Tutu–Bishop Patrick Monwabisi Matolengwe–and Rev. Ross Anthony John Olivier traveled to Lebanon to speak about the racial inequality that existed in their country for so long. This in a sense parallels the genocidal acts pursued against the Armenian people.
A host of church and political leaders–university professors–intellectuals–and members of the press were invited.
His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia–opened the conference by stating that the purpose of the assembly was to present the Armenian Genocide–to exchange experiences–and to demonstrate the role of Christian churches in promoting awareness about the violation of human rights. The Catholicos stressed the premeditation of the Armenian Genocide. He also spoke of Pan-Turkist and racial reasons for the Genocide.
The first session dealt with the losses of the Armenian people–and the efforts of the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia in seeking justice. Lectures were presented by Zaven Messerlian–Vartabed Nareg Alemezian–Garo Hovanessian–Dr. Yervant Kassouni–Hagop Pakradouni–and Dr. Paul Haydostian.
During the second session–the guests from South Africa presented their viewpoints regarding the social and economic injustices endured by the Armenian and South African peoples. Bishop Hamilton Mvumelwano Dandala emphasized the need to keep alive our collective memory so that the next generation will also be aware of the past. Rev. Ross Anthony John Olivier mentioned how a simple forgiving is easy–however a practical forgiving is difficult to come by.
In his concluding speech–Catholicos Aram I said he was pleased that Antelias served as a foundation of the friendship between the Armenian and South African peoples. His Holiness said that human rights and justice should be fought for together.
It should be noted that the Catholicos has visited South Africa twice and has been invited to visit the country next year.