ISTANBUL (Marmara)–Archbishop Mesrob Mutafyan–the Patriarch of Istanbul–released a statement reacting to a joint communiqu issued by Pope John Paul II and His Holiness Karekin II–the Catholicos of All Armenia’s–following the latter’s visit to the Vatican.
The communiqu could be seen as a recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the pope–and following continuous inquiries by the Turkish press–Mutafyan issued a statement–in which he said discussions between the two religious heads should have stayed within the realm of ecumenical dialogue and not venture into political matters.
Mutafyan’s announcement–which is printed below–most likely emerges from pressures not just from the press–but other entities in Turkey.
Steadfast In Our Prayers
We read the text of the Joint Communiqu in the press. As we did not participate in this ecumenical meeting–we were not aware of the text of the common declaration made by the heads of the two Churches. Nevertheless–it had been our wish that the deliberations in Rome would be within the spheres of ecumenical dialogue and would not touch upon politically sensitive issues. The Joint Communiqu could have taken this point into consideration.
The Gospel calls for the eradication of the roots of bitterness from our hearts. As the faithful live side by side with other Christians and with the adherents of other faiths–it is the duty of the Church to establish an atmosphere of reciprocal love and respect–where all humankind could engage in a dialogue of life.
The deep pain inherited from the past cannot be the only basis for the edification of the present and the future of Armenia’s around the world. If this were the case–then the centuries-old creative Armenian heritage would be considered bankrupt. Yet–just the opposite is true. The Armenian Church and Armenian culture are so rich and deeply rooted in the Christian faith that they do not need to receive nourishment from the bitter pages of history. Rather than just reminding our children of historic tragedies–as Christian ministers–it is our primary duty to transmit our rich heritage to our children–to make this heritage alive and develop it for future generations.
We continue to pray with these thoughts.
Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul