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"THE CHURCHES OF INDIA PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE IN THE ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT" - HIS HOLINESS ARAM I

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Kochi : "The ecumenical movement owes a great deal to the churches of India. With their theological input, active participations in ecumenical discussions, and firm commitment to the ecumenical vision they played a significant role in the formation and expansion of the ecumenical movement", said His Holiness Aram I on his arrival to Cochin, India, on Wednesday 24 February.

Speaking about his visit to India, Aram I said that although he is invited by His Holiness Catholicos Moran Mor Baselios Marthoma Didymos I of Indian (Malankara) Orthodox Church, he considers his visit ecumenical: "Ecumenism is not out there; it is a local reality. We must be ecumenical primarily on the local level. How can the churches manifest concretely the ecumenical spirit through joint ventures, by sharing their joy and problems, and addressing together common concerns? This must become a permanent concern and challenge for the churches" according to Aram I.

In response to a question regarding the prevailing conflict within the Indian Orthodox Church, Catholicos Aram I said that "he has not come to India with a mission of reconciliation". He also added that "he cannot remain indifferent in view of the division in the same church. Working for unity and reconciliation is at the heart of Christian vocation".

His Holiness stressed the vital importance of interreligious dialogue. In his view, "interreligious dialogue is no more an academic exercise, it is integral to our daily life in this globalized world. India is a model of a pluralist society in which dialogue is an existential reality. Hence, we must take this dimension of Christian life and witness very seriously". His Holiness, who has a rich experience in the area of interreligious dialogue, pointed out that Indian theologians have brought, out of their concrete experiences, a significant contribution to many initiatives of dialogue on the global level.

The visitation program of Aram I will include meetings with the leaderships of the churches of India, meeting with the holy synod of the Indian Orthodox Church, public lectures on ecumenical topics and visits to the churches and church-related institutions.

His Holiness is accompanied by H.E. Arch. Sebouh Sarkissian, Prelate of Tehran, H.E. Nareg Alrmezian, Ecumenical officer, and his secretary V. Rev. Mesrob Sarkissian.

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