TEHRAN–His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia met Monday with Iran’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei–making the first ever meeting the Iranian leader has held with any religious or political officials since replacing the late Ayataollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
The Catholicos was accompanied by Prelate of Tehran Archbishop Ardak Manougian; Prelate of Syria Arch. Souren Kataroyan; Prelate of Isfahan Arch. Goriun Babyan; Catholicosate Locum Tenens and the Prelate of Damascus Bishop Sebouh Sarkissian; Locum Tenens of Northern Syria Right Rev. Norayr Ashekian; Prelate of Lebanon Right Rev. Gegham Khatcherian; Catholicosate Locum Tenens and Prelate of Northern Iran–Bishop Neshan Topouzian; Catholicosate Seminary Director Right Rev. Shahan Sarkissian; Iran’s Armenian members of parliament Vardan Vardanian and Ardavazd Baghoumian; Member of the Catholicosate Central Executive Council; member of the Syrian parliament and chairman of the Prelacy Executive Council Simon Libarian; Chairman of the Lebanon Prelacy Executive Council Dr. Garbis Haboyan; member of the Catholicosate Central Executive Council Tatul Ohanian; chairman of the Tehran Prelacy Executive Council Varoujan Arakelian; and manager of the Tehran-based Alik newspaper Albert Adjemian.
The Catholicos thanked Khamenei and commended the Islamic Republic of Iran for its relations with the Armenian-Iranian community. Aram I also highlighted the Armenian community’s role during the Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war–as well as the contributions of the community for the betterment of the country.
The pontiff stressed the importance of dialogue between Moslems and Christians.
The Ayatollah warmly welcomed the Catholicos and said that he was aware of the positive contribution of the Catholicos internationally to promote Moslem-Christian dialogue–thus viewing Aram I as a "close friend" of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
"We consider Iran’s Armenia’s as our brothers and sisters and indivisible parts of the Iranian people. You have only heard about the contributions of the Iranian community. We have witnessed Armenia’s fighting during the Iran-Iraq war–their active participation in Ayatollah Khomeini’s spiritual revolution and the major contributions in the development of Iran," said Khamenei.
The two religious leaders also addressed myriad issues related to the role of religion in today’s society.
The Catholicos arrived in Iran last Wednesday and led the annual pilgrimage to the St. Thaddeus monastery in Iranian Azerbaijan.
The pilgrimage began Friday and concluded Sunday with numerous national and religious ceremonies being officiated by the Catholicos.
Details of this historic event will be published in upcoming issues of the Asbarez.