YEREVAN (ArmRadio)—From September 24 through 27, in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, presided over the opening of the Bishops’ Synod of the Armenian Church, the first in six hundred years. Present at the meeting were 62 Archbishops and Bishops of the Armenian Apostolic Church from all around the world.
On Sept. 24, following the Morning services in the Mother Cathedral, the Bishops Synod of the Armenian Church opened in the Gevorkian Seminary Events Center Auditorium.
Serzh Sarkisian, President of the Republic of Armenia, greeted the Bishops during the opening ceremony of the meeting. His Holiness Karekin II and His Holiness Aram I delivered their messages to the Synod participants. His Eminence Archbishop Aram Ateshyan, Patriarchal Vicar of Constantinople, also gave opening remarks during the Bishops’ Synod.
At the conclusion of the opening service, the following chancellery of the Synod was established: Archbishop Khajag Barsamyan and Archbishop Oshakan Choloyan were appointed to serve as co-chairmen; and Archbishop Narek Alemezyan and Archbishop Arshak Kachatryan were appointed to serve as secretaries. Following the assignment of administrative duties, the Synod’s agenda items were approved.
On September 24, the Synod discussed the re-establishment of the tradition of canonization in the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church, and specifically focused on the issue of canonization of the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Co-Chairmen of the Sainthood Committee, Archbishop Sepuh Sargsyan, and Archbishop Yeznik Petrosyan, presented reports on the results of the works and study concerning this issue.
Following lengthy discussion by the Synod on the reports concerning the canonization of the Armenian Genocide victims, the Synod made the following decisions:
The collective canonization of the victims of the Armenian Genocide was adopted in principle, and the Sainthood Committee was assigned the task of continuing to study the individual and collective canonization of victims, for presentation and approval at the next meeting. The Sainthood Committee was also assigned the task of reviewing the canon and ritual of canonization, for presentation and approval at the next meeting.
On September 25 and 26, the Synod members discussed the works of the Liturgical Committee on the sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The reports were presented by Co-Chairman Archbishop Arshak Kachatryan; and committee members Bishop Mikael Ajapahyan and Bishop Vahan Hovhannisyan. At the conclusion of intensive discussions, the Synod accepted a uniform text for the Services of Baptism and Chrismation.
In the next session, the report on canonical issues the sacrament of the Holy Baptism and the moral-instructive guidelines of Holy Baptism were the topic of discussion. The Liturgical Committee was assigned to further continue their work on those issues. Also discussed was the language of Armenian Church services and other issues, and it was noted that additional study was required.
The sessions of September 27 were devoted to the modern challenges facing the Armenian Church. Archbishop Oshakan Choloyan and Bishop Bagrat Galstanyan presented reports on the matter. Discussing the challenges on the liturgical, and religious instruction life of the Church and its educational and social mission, as well as the problems of the preservation of the Armenian identity, the Synod members noted those to be of predominant priority and decided to include them in the agenda of the upcoming Synod meetings.
Reviewing the results of the Bishops Synod, they also expressed concern for the social, economic, national, and regional and various other challenges and problems present in the church and civil life of our nation. As a solution to those challenges and problems, as their service to the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Bishops decided to establish a foundation for supporting the disadvantaged children of Armenia, Cilicia and Armenians in Syria, with the blessings of the Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, and Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I.
Initially two million dollars was provided for launching the foundation and a special committee was created for organizing the mission of the foundation.
At the conclusion of the Synod, the Bishops happily reflected on the productive outcome of the meeting and also expressed their appreciation to His Holiness Karekin II and His Holiness Aram I for the opportunity of uniting under the roof of the Mother See in brotherly love. The Synod members remarked on the importance of regularly convening the Bishops Synod for addressing the various challenges that the Armenian Apostolic Church presently face, and the problems concerning the Armenian people. This will also help in adjusting the viewpoints and approaches of the Armenian Church on those matters.
The next Bishops Synod is scheduled to be convened in autumn of 2014. The Catholicos of All Armenians and the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia closed the Synod with their blessings, offering appreciation and prayers.
On Monday, President Serzh Sarkisian hosted His Holiness Karekin II and His Holiness Aram I.
President Serzh Sarkisian and the church leaders spoke about the work conducted at the Bishops’s Synod of the Armenian Church, which concluding on Monday in Etchmiadzin. The three discussed the Synod’s adopted decisions. They also discussed issues considered by the Synod that overlap with issues pertinent to the worldwide Armenian nation and homeland, works aimed at the preservation of the Armenian identity in the diaspora, as well as relations between the State and the Church.
The spiritual fathers once again stressed the importance of the President’s participation at the opening of the Bishops’ Synod, the significant pan-Armenian issues touched upon in the President’s address and the state’s position regarding these issues.