NEW YORK–The Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of North America released a communique regarding the planned pontifical visit of His Holiness Aram I to Eastern US and Canada–and various issues concerning the visit. Below is the full text of the communique.
His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the See of Cilicia and Moderator of the World Council of Churches–will make his first pontifical visit to the Eastern Unites States and Canada this fall to meet with the faithful and also visit and confer with ecumenical religious leaders.
It is not the first time that a Catholicos of the See of Cilicia visits this Prelacy. In 1983–His Holiness Karekin II–then Catholicos of the Cilician See–and the Vice-Moderator of the World Council of Churches–paid a lengthy pontifical visit. He made several other shorter visits until his election in 1995 as Catholicos of All Armenia’s. None of these visits were ascribed to be a challenge to the authority of His Holiness Vasgen I–of blessed memory.
Yet–for the past few months there has been an orchestrated campaign to distort the purpose of Catholicos Aram I’s visit. Issues which are in no way related to our goal of the reunification of the North American church are being raised. The intent of this campaign seems to be–at best–to cause confusion in the community–and at worst–to totally destroy the painstaking progress that has been made in our unity talks.
The legitimacy of the Holy See of Cilicia is being questioned and suggestions are being made that the unification of our churches in America should signal the abolition of the centuries-old Cilician See.
Catholicos Aram I is under attack because of his official travels to various parts of the world–some of which are visits to the Prelacies under the jurisdiction of Cilicia and others as part of his duties as Moderator of the World Council of Churches.
For example–misinformed individuals have claimed that in an effort of "one-upmanship," Catholicos Aram I went to the Vatican immediately after Catholicos Karekin’s visit.
The truth is that the invitations from the Vatican were received almost simultaneously in Etchmiadzin and Antelias. The two Catholicoi conferred and concurred completely on the timing of the visits. Let us not create problems where none exist.
Emotions and tensions are escalating in our community–due perhaps in large part to the Assemblies of the Diocese and the Prelacy this month. Let us not harden our hearts with hurtful and irresponsible statemen’s. Let us not "muddy the waters" by attaching other agendas to the unity process.
We are committed to the reunification of the American prelacies under the authority of the Holy Mother See of Etchmiadzin–and far from delaying that goal–we believe that Catholicos Aram I’s first pontifical visit will serve to strengthen that resolve and to finally achieve the unity that we all long for. We welcome all of the faithful of the Armenian Church to join us in welcoming Aram I in October.