ETCHMIADZIN (Armenpress)–His Grace Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury concluded Monday his official four day visit to the Armenian Church.
The Archbishop was accompanied on this visit by Bishop Geoffrey Rowell, Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe and Anglican Co-Chair of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox Joint International Commission and Bishop David Stancliffe, the Bishop of Salisbury. This visit follows the official visit of His Holiness Karekin II to the Church of England in 2004.
These reciprocal visits have offered the opportunity to experience the particularities of the life and mission of both Churches in their historical and modern contexts. At the conclusion of the visit the Catholicos of All Armenia’s and the Archbishop of Canterbury jointly signed the following communiqu?:
“We rejoice that on the occasion of reciprocal visits to the Church of England in 2004 and the Armenian Church in 2007, we have each participated as brothers in the Divine Liturgy of our Churches and spent time together with our brother bishops, priests and faithful in both prayer and worship. This present visit has been a wonderful opportunity to experience some of the fullness of the life of the Church in Armenia.
In addition to visiting a number of monasteries and seminaries, we have together seen at first hand, examples of the pastoral outreach of the Armenian Church to some of the most needy in Armenian society, including the young’s-both those studying and learning new skills at the youth centers run by the Church and others serving a time of detention in the correctional facility at Abovian where chaplains provide for the spiritual needs of the inmates. We were heartened to see new churches being built in rapidly developing urban areas-‘sa sure sign of new life in both our Churches.
We have had discussions with the President and Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia as well as with the Justice Minister Gevorg Danielian.
For our Churches and, we believe, for the well-being of our societies the continuing development of fruitful and mutually respectful relations between Church and State is crucial. The Church must always be a sign of the unconditional love of God in the midst of His people. In spreading and teaching the Word of God in the world we must be loving, truthful and fearless, always finding ways to speak honestly and openly, in a spirit of charity and love, to all our brothers and sisters and to the government and public authorities in our two countries.
We have both been deeply moved to participate in a special ceremony of prayer and recollection at the Memorial to the Armenian Genocide in Yerevan, where we were joined by our brothers and sisters of the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches in a service of remembrance for the victims of genocide everywhere.
At the end of this blessed time together we acknowledge with deep gratitude the many blessings of Almighty God that have sprung from the long and close relationship between the Anglican Communion and the Armenian Church.
We welcome the establishment of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox Joint International Commission in 2001 and believe that the significant Christological agreement reached by the Commission at its first meeting in 2002 in Holy Etchmiadzin demonstrates the importance of this continuing theological dialogue between the family of Oriental Orthodox churches and the Anglican Communion.
We express our sadness at the temporary suspension of this dialogue, and with great hope in our hearts for the future we look forward to an early resumption of the work of the Commission.
We thank God for the great gift of friendship between ourselves, and our two churches, and pray earnestly that the fruit of these friendships will be manifest in the lives of the members of our churches and especially in their faithful witness to God’s love for us in Christ Jesus.