YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Interim Catholicos Nerses Pozapalyan–Patriarch of Jerusalem archbishop Torgom Manoukian–Patriarch of Constantinople archbishop Mesrop Mutafyan accompanied by bishops of St. Etchmiadzin Mother See paid a courtesy visit to president Robert Kocharian Friday. They thanked the president for the assistance rendered to the Church following the passing of His Holiness Karekin I–Catholicos of All Armenia’s..
"For centuries–the Armenian people–having no statehood–pinned its hopes on the Church," Kocharian said. "The church is the major support of the state–a national structure which unites all Armenia’s in Armenia and Diaspora." The president hopes that–on the threshold of a new millennium and the 1700th anniversary of the adoption of Christianity in Armenia–the election of a new Catholicos will help unify the Armenian people.
Nerses Pozapalyan stressed that the relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Armenian church have always been close and strong. These relations should be even stronger in future for the sake of the state and welfare of the Church–he added.
The same day–chairman of the National Assembly of Armenia Karen Demirchian met Friday with members of the Spiritual Council from St. Etchmiadzin Mother See led by Interim Catholicos archbishop Nerses Pozapalyan.
Demirchian voiced hope that the late Catholicos Karekin I will be replaced by a person worthy of the Armenian church and the Armenian people.
The National Assembly Chairman then discussed Armenia’s current situation with top clergymen. He described the recent parliamentary elections in Armenia as a major event. He also spoke about the current alignment of forces within the parliament and various issues the National Assembly will be addressing this year.
Noting the importance of the Church in the life of the country and people–Demirchian stressed the importance of intensifying its activities with the younger generation and in unifying Diasporan Armenia’s.
On the same day Interim Catholicos archbishop Nerses Pozapalyan–Patriarch of Jerusalem archbishop Torkom Manoogian–Patriarch of Constantinople archbishop Mesrob Mutafyan accompanied by bishops of St. Etchmiadzin Mother See paid a courtesy visit to prime minister Vazgen Sargsyan.
His Holiness Karekin I–Catholicos of All Armenia’s was laid to rest Thursday during a burial ceremony attended by thousands of faithful and several religious and political officials from Armenia and abroad.
His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia–joined Mutafyan–Manoogian and Pozapalyan in addressing the burial ceremony.
"Our Catholicos is now imortal. He has now become one of the peaks of the Armenian mind and spirit," said Aram I.
"He was not only a prominent clergyman–but also a salient scientist and theologist. In the short period of time when he was the supreme patriarch of all Armenia’s–Karekin I was able to explain to the nation God’s word," Arch. Pozapalyan said.
Pozapalyan was named last week as temporary head of the Armenian Church. A permanent replacement is due to be chosen no sooner than the first half of next year.
Following the Mass–a special blessing of the soil was performed–after which the Catholicos remains were interred at a gravesite adjacent to his predecessor–His Holiness Vazken I.
Attending the funeral at Etchmiadzin were President Robert Kocharian–National Assembly Speaker Karen Demirchian–Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan–National Assembly deputies and other high ranking officials from the governmen’s of Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
In his remarks Kocharian stressed that Catholicos Karekin I was one of the more fortunate Armenian church leaders–since–he became the first in centuries to ascend the throne of the Gregory the Illuminator in an independent Armenia.
Also taking part in the ceremonies were the Patriarch of the Georgian Church–Ilias II and other world religious leaders–including representatives of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope.
Armenia observed three days of national mourning for Karekin from July 6 to 8. Television and radio channels canceled all entertainment programs and national red-blue-orange flags on top of government buildings were flying at half-mast with black ribbons attached to them.
The funeral followed a three-hour church service in accordance with Armenian religious rites honed over many centuries. Religious and political leaders paid tribute to Karekin’s contribution to reviving religious life following the collapse of Communism and Armenia’s emergence as an independent state.