Historic Bishops’ Synod in Etchmiadzin

 

In what is believed to be the first such gathering in 600 years, on Tuesday, September 24, 2013, the Bishops’ Synod convened in Etchmiadzin with the blessings and presence of H.H. Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, and H.H. Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia.

The Synod brought together 62 Archbishops and Bishops from the Armenian Apostolic Church around the world to discuss a number of theological and ecclesiastical issues over four days of meetings.

H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, participated in the Synod.

The Synod convened with the Lord’s Prayer, followed by a requiem service for the souls of newly departed Archbishops Shahan Svajian and Ardavazt Terterian, as well as for the souls of all departed clergymen.

Catholicos Karekin II welcomed the clergymen and invited Armenia’s President, Serzh Sargsyan, to deliver his remarks.  Following the President’s speech, His Holiness Karekin II, His Holiness Aram I, and His Eminence Archbishop Aram Ateshyan, Patriarch of Constantinople, delivered their opening remarks.

Catholicos Karekin II spoke of the political circumstances that have created hardship for the Armenian people, as well as the natural disasters, massacres, pogroms, the Genocide, and the Soviet years of atheism. He said today the Motherland is independent and the Church is free to carry out reforms.

In his opening address, Catholicos Aram I about various theological and ecclesiastical issues and said that if the Church is not reformed it will turn into a museum. Building a church is important, he said, but becoming a church is much more important. He noted that we have to preserve traditions, but not idolize them.

The Synod then officially convened to study issues and challenges facing the church and nation, and the question of reforms in the canons and liturgical practices of the Armenian Church. The two main subjects on the agenda were canonization of the victims of the Armenian Genocide and the Baptismal ceremonial rite.

On Friday 27 September 2013, the Synod concluded with the following decisions:

1. Revive the ancient tradition of making saints of the Armenian Church, and apply it to the Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide.

2. Approve the report of the Committee on the Sacraments of Baptism and Anointing.

3. Continue discussing the current challenges to the Armenian Church

4. Establish an Endowment fund with an initial capital of US $2,000,000.- (two million US dollars) to help all those in need in Armenia, Artsakh and Syria.

The Bishops will meet again in Autumn 2014.

Opening Remarks of H.H. Catholicos Aram I

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