Egypt's papal vote gives Copts cause to celebrate

As early results trickle in, Monday's vote left many jubliant after being billed as the most democratic papal poll in history of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church

Sarah El-Rashidi, Monday 29 Oct 2012

Papal electors gather to vote for the final three
candidates at the Coptic cathedral in Cairo's
district of Abbasiya, Monday, 29 October.
photo courtesy of Sarah El-Rashidi,Ahram Online

Smiles and cheers filled Cairo's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Abbasiya throughout Monday amid Egypt's first papal elections since 1971.

"Today is the most important day in the church's history," Basilius Qanon, a Coptic priest from the Upper Egyptian Minya governorate, told Ahram Online. "It has been 40 years since we last held papal elections."

The polling, which has been praised for its high degree of organisation, was conducted from 9am to 5pm Monday. Final results will be announced at 9pm the same day.

Following the death of Pope Shenouda III in March, the interim pope, 76-year-old Bishop Pachomios, formed a committee mandated with drawing up a shortlist of nominees to become the church's next patriarch. Earlier this month, the names of five final nominees – including two bishops and three monks – were announced by the committee.

Electors at the cathedral, for their part, voiced pleasure with the choice of papal finalists.

"We're very happy with all five candidates," said Coptic priest Makarious Soliman Malawi, echoing a common opinion among the roughly 2,400 electors.

"God will write our fate," exclaimed Coptic priest and elector Paulos Ewada, declining to divulge which candidates he cast ballots for.

Electors include Coptic archbishops, bishops, lay council members and agents of the archdioceses, as well as renowned Coptic laymen, including leading Coptic media officials. In line with church bylaws, five electors hail from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

After final voting results are announced Monday evening, three finalists will proceed to the final phase of the electoral process: the 'alter lottery,' slated for 4 November, in which a blindfolded child will randomly select the name of the church's 118th pope.

Some have criticised the electoral system, enshrined in the church’s 1957 bylaws, as having no spiritual or legal basis.

"Although some criticise the system, I endorse it," said Coptic priest Soliman. "After all, the revered Pope Shenouda was selected this way."

Posters depicting the five nominees covered the walls of the Cathedral, which reverberated with recorded lectures and sermons delivered by the late pope, along with audio biographies of the five candidates.

Eight ballot boxes were set up for the vote, two of which were reserved for electors living abroad, who either came to Egypt to vote themselves or assigned Egypt-based proxies to vote on their behalf.

Despite the jubilation, Coptic electors acknowledged the many challenges that will face Egypt's new Coptic Orthodox pope.

Many stressed the importance of the new patriarch's diplomatic capacity, as he will be expected to bridge Egypt's sectarian divides while maintaining a rapport with the international community.

"One of the major challenges the new pope will face will be obtaining the legal right to build new churches," said Coptic priest El-Moharaki.

Coptic priest and elector Qanon, for his part, said: "The new pope is a human being like us; he will need God's help and our support."

Courtesy: Ahram Online

Bishop Anba Suriel on Coptic Papal Election

Bishop Anba Suriel of the Melbourne Dioceses of the Coptic Orthodox Church remarked:
“Today is a historic day for Coptic Christians in Egypt and around the world. Over 2400 representatives of Copts will vote for selecting the top three candidates towards choosing the 118th Pope of Alexandria and All Africa. Let us all lift up our hearts in prayers that the Lord speaks into the hearts of each voter to make their choice according to God’s will. May the Lord choose for us the good and wise shepherd who will guide the people of God in justice, righteousness and peace.”



Ethiopian Orthodox Church to Revamp Patriarchal Election Procedure

Addis Ababa, 27/10/2012: Sources close to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church reveals that the Church hierarchy may consider restructuring the Patriarchal election procedures. The Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is to make a detailed analysis of the current procedure to re frame and reorder it and hence election of the new Patriarch will be held thereafter.
Patriarch Abune Paulos entered eternal rest on 16th August 2012. Later the Holy Synod appointed Archbishop Abune Nathaniel was appointed as the Locum Tenens.

OCP News Service

Remarks of HH Karekin II at the Funeral of His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian

Etchmiadzin, 23 October, 2012 : On October 21 and 22, on behalf of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, His Eminence Archbishop Navasard Kchoyan; Vicar General of the Araratyan Pontifical Diocese, and His Eminence Archbishop Markos Hovhannissian; Primate of the Armenian Diocese in Gegharkunik, participated in funeral services of the His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, of Blessed Memory, Patriarch of the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem.

During the funeral His Grace Navasard read a message of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians:


"Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life."
(Revelations 2:10)

Mourning Spiritual Brothers and Pious Faithful,

On this sad day, We raise Our prayer to God for the rest and peace of the soul of the late Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem; His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian.

"Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life"

These words of Our Lord bring to every believer the joyous words of eternal life, which live with deep faith and the spirit of love towards Jesus by serving people and His nations with good and righteous deeds. The life of Patriarch Torkom, of Blessed Memory, passed with immense devotion and unlimited tiredness towards All Mighty God and his people.

Until his death, the Patriarch remained loyal to his mission and calling - the sacrament towards the Church and His people - with which, according to the words of the Lord, he will receive the crown of eternal life in blissful dwellings.

Dear faithful sons and daughters, today, when our hearts are filled with sorrow and mourning at this moment of the passing of our beloved Patriarch, we believe that His soul soars with joy to the Savior Jesus Christ and will be introduced to eternal life in the heavenly dwellings in front of God, as evidenced by these words: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (2 Timothy 4:7)

At this moment we carry the warm memories of His Beatitude in our soul and in our vision we see the path of His diligent life. The spirit of the Patriarch of Blessed Memory as a religious leader was molded into the St. James Seminary of Jerusalem.

In his youth at the age of twenty, Patriarch Torkom, of Blessed Memory, was ordained as a celibate priest in the Armenian Apostolic Church in the St. James Cathedral, which contains the relics of the Apostle.

More than seven decades ago, His Eminence started his service in the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem filled with the spirit of patriotism and love for his nation, then served as the Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, and then as the Primate of the Eastern Diocese of North America. Having been elected as the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, Patriarch Torkom, of Blessed Memory, returned to his spiritual birthplace, where for decades with his courageous and eminent soul, he spared no efforts and energy for the benefit of building the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem, and protecting our cherished sanctuaries.

"…for our days on earth are a shadow", - says the blessed Job (Job 8:9) affirming that life is not eternal but short, compared to that of eternity.

The mission of Patriarch Torkom, however, has been the light in our nation's spiritual and religious life, and left its luminous path for the history of the Church and the kind memory of our faithful. Multiple Armenian pilgrims from the Homeland and other countries of our world, who after visiting Jerusalem, the place of Holy worship, to receive consolation from the sweet and blessed words of the Patriarch; strengthened in their faith, decorated the path of life with God-pleasing deeds, full of God’s graces.

Today the book on the earthly life of the late Patriarch Torkom Manoogian has closed, but he continues speaking to us through his books, collections of poems, dissertations and translations, meditations and thesis. These overwhelmed his soul with deep faith and encouraged his readers with unlimited devotion to seek kindness, justice, honesty, and national sacred values.

Dear beloved, asking the Holy Spirit for comfort graces us all, and we extend our words of encouragement to the members of the Brotherhood of St. James, who are the dedicated protectors of this Holy See and our sanctuaries. Let the will of the All Mighty always support you so that through the example of His Beatitude’s zealous service of long years, you will enjoy the glory and pride of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem and keep, with the support of sky scraping brightness, the Brotherhood of St. James by efforts of prayers bringing All Armenians to the spiritual structure and progress of the spiritual life.

From the bottom of our hearts we pray to All Mighty God to accept in his dwellings with sweetness, and rank him among the blessed saints, the soul of His diligent and faithful servant His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, of Blessed Memory, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem; and give consolation to all faithful Armenians. Light, prayers and blessings to the memory of our beloved Patriarch Torkom, of Blessed Memory.

"Let the Lord remember the soul of His servant and shine light on his face. Amen."

With Sorrowful Love and Blessings:


Information Service of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin


Antelias-Lebanon: The Catholicos of the Graet House of Cilicia, His Holiness Aram I marked the passing of Patriarch Torkom Manoukian in a eulogy read at his funeral by Archbishop Varoujan Herkelian, Primate of Cyprus.

He praised Patriarch Torkom for his life of service to the Church, his deep spirituality and his commitment to the Christian teachings. His Holiness recalled that Patriarch Torkom, who was an accomplished musicologist and a specialist in the music of Gomitas, had organized the brotherhood the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, renovated the holy sites and, with the members of the brotherhood, worked to safeguard the centuries-old privilege of the Armenian Patriarchate as custodian of holy places in Jerusalem.


New Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem will be elected in November

H E Aris Shirvanian

YEREVAN, 2012 OCTOBER 25, ARMENPRESS: The issue regarding the election of the primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church’s Eastern Diocese of America Archbishop Khazhak Barsamyan as a new Patriarch of Jerusalem is not certain yet. For becoming the new Patriarch of Jerusalem Archbishop Khazhak Barsamyan first of all needs the votes of the members of the council and he himself must have a desire to become a new patriarch. Vicar of the Armenian Patriarch of the Jerusalem Archbishop Aris Shirvanian said this in a conversation with "Armenpress".

Vicar of the Armenian Patriarch of the Jerusalem Archbishop Aris Shirvanian said: "Funerals of the deceased Patriarch are over now and 40 days after his death, the election of the new patriarch will be held. It’s difficult to say who will become the new patriarch, as no announcement regarding the candidacies is made. Secret ballot is held at the council, where 5 candidacies are involved and after the second votes one of these 5 will become a patriarch."

On October 12 Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Archbishop Torkom Manoukyan passed away. He was a chairman of "Religion in American Life" Council. He also was a member of the council of directors of "Call of Conscience” foundation.

He was the author of more than 20 monographs including three books of poetry, a study on Armenian Devine Liturgy, books dedicated to the Armenian Genocide and detailed guide to the holy places of Jerusalem. The deceased Patriarch was a prominent expert on Komitas.



Jerusalem Armenian patriarch vote set for next month


The Armenian Apostolic Church prepares to choose new patriarch to succeed archbishop who passed away.

Elections are taking place not only in political circles, but in religious ones as well.

The Armenian Apostolic Church’s General Assembly of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem is preparing for the election of a new patriarch to succeed archbishop Torkom Manoogian, who passed away in Jerusalem on October 12 at age 93. He was buried on Monday.

In accordance with tradition, a successor is elected 40 days after the passing of the patriarch, but an interim patriarch is elected until the vote for a new patriarch takes place.

Archbishop Aris Shirvanian is the patriarchal locum tenens of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and among his duties was to preside over Manoogian’s funeral and to organize the election for his successor.

Shirvanian previously served as the Patriarchate’s director of ecumenical and foreign relations.

Manoogian, who was born in February 1919 in a town on the Iraqi-Turkish border, was sent to study in Jerusalem when he was 12. Following his ordination in 1939, he spent most of his adult life in the United States, where his last position prior to his 1990 election as patriarch of Jerusalem was as primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church in America.

Following a two-day ceremony at the beginning of this week, Manoogian was laid to rest at the Holy Savior Monastery at the Zion Gate.

His successor will be the 97th Armenian patriarch of Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Post

Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem elects Patriarchal Locum Tenens

Jerusalem, October 20, 2012: General Assembly of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem of the Armenian Apostolic Church convened a session Friday. The event brought together 29 senior clergy members from the Church dioceses of Jerusalem and other countries.

The assembly commenced with a pray to God, so that the soul of recently deceased Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, may rest in peace. And the order of the day was but one matter: election of the Patriarchal Locum Tenens.

As a result, and with an overwhelming majority of the votes, Archbishop Aris Shirvanian was elected Patriarchal Locum Tenens of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Archbishop Shirvanian’s duties will be to preside over Patriarch Manoogian’s funeral and, forty days after the Patriarch’s passing, to organize an election for the new Patriarch.

Shirvanian previously served as the Patriarchate’s director of ecumenical and foreign relations.

News from Armenia - NEWS.am

Up to the Minute: "The Deteriorating Situation in Syria: Update from the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo," October 24

The Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, will describe the increasing violence in war-torn Syria and the threat to Syria's religious communities at an "Up to the Minute" public lecture at the Woodrow Wilson School on Wednesday, October 24, 2012, at 4:30 p.m., Dodds Auditorium, Robertson Hall. The event is co-sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson School and the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination (LISD). There will be a public reception following the discussion in Shultz dining room.
The Archbishop, who still resides in Aleppo, recently appealed to the world community for concrete diplomatic initiatives in response to the growing violence in Syria.  According to a recent news report, “the Syrian Orthodox Bishop described the ever increasing dangers in the city of Aleppo, saying that explosions occur ‘all day.’ The Syrian prelate also said that because they live close to neighborhoods where the Free Syria Army has settled, it has been impossible to open schools or accommodate people in churches. Mar Gregorios said that the situation is worsening in the region and echoed Pope Benedict's called for an international response to the crisis. ‘We leaders of local Christian Churches can do little. Even Muslim leaders appear divided,’ he said.”
Archbishop Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim holds degrees from St. Ephrem Theological Seminary in Zahle, the Oriental Institute in Rome, the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome and Birmingham University in the UK, where he received his Ph.D. and wrote a dissertation entitled, “Christian Arabs in Mesopotamia before Islam.” He has held positions in Iraq, Sweden, Holland Belgium and Lebanon, and has served as Archbishop in Syria since 1979. He is and has been a committee member on many religious boards, including the Global Christian Forum, the Executive Committee of the Middle East Council of Churches, and the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches. He has acted as a representative of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch at international, regional and local conferences since 1980. Most recently, he assisted in preparation of the Papal Visit to Lebanon and attended the G8 Religious Summit in Bordeaux, France, as well as the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations in Doha. He participated in the LISD’s Liechtenstein Colloquium on Syria, Iran, and the Macro Region in Triesenberg, April, 2012.
The event will be archived online for later viewing on the Woodrow Wilson School’s web media site – http://wws.princeton.edu/webmedia.

Source:Princeton University

Late Armenian Pariarch Farewelled: Joy and Pride Behind the Sorrow

By Arthur Hagopian

Jerusalem, Oct 22 – The epic odyssey of the boy Avedis, from the sandstorms of the Iraqi desert, to the golden throne of St James in Jerusalem, wound down to its inevitable close this week, as the coffin slowly descended into the grave, clods of earth raining down upon the lid, a final farewell: earth to earth.
The heavens themselves seemed to blaze forth the death of the prince, Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, 96th in line of succession from Abraham, the first leader of the Armenian Church in the Holy Land.

In a hauntingly solemn ceremony, his fellow princes had led Manoogian to his final resting place in the Armenian cemetery of St Saviors, a stone's throw from the bullet-riddled Zion Gate, one of seven that punctuate the 500-years old Walls of the Old City.

Thousands of people, some of whom had flown in expressly for the occasion, watched the funeral or accompanied the cortege, the narrow streets of the Old City and the confined space within the cemetery making it impossible to accommodate more than a fraction of their number.

For the first time within living memory, the whole city seemed to have risen as one to pay tribute to the man who gave pungent definition to the terms “glasnost” and “perestroika,” and who helped usher a new era of stability and prosperity for his diminishing and dispirited fold.

Putting aside their differences for a brief spell, leaders or representatives of practically every house of God in Jerusalem, whether Christians, or the ones who call Him Yahweh, or those who call Him Allah, and of every political affiliation in the country, marched in the mournful funeral procession, from the Convent of St James, seat of the Armenian Patriarchate, to the Armenian cemetery.

The presence of the foreign host gave tangible, vociferous recognition of the ineradicable place Armenians continue to occupy in Jerusalem: despite the relentless attrition wars and catastrophes have precipitated in their numbers over the years, Armenians still prefer Jerusalem over their chief joy.
Ask any Armenian, if he or she could remold his destiny "to the heart’s desire," (in Omar Khayyam’s words), where would they like their home to be, and the reply will be unequivocally divided between Yerevan, capital of the Armenian homeland, and Yerusaghem (the Armenian name for Jerusalem).
Pulitzer prize winning novelist William Saroyan said it best: when any two Armenians meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a new Armenia.

The unmistakable attendance of a special envoy from the Lebanon-based Armenian Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia, historic rivals of the mother church in Armenia with which Jerusalem is aligned, gave vivid proof of this unshakable bond of fraternity and solidarity.

And to demonstrate his affinity with the Armenian church (as well as his own personal regard for Manoogian), former Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah emerged out of self-imposed retirement, to join the funeral procession.

During the past 50 years or so, the Armenians of Jerusalem have had to bury two patriarchs: Guregh Israelian, in 1949, just after the first Arab-Israel war and Israel's proclamation of independence, and Yeghishe Derderian, in 1990.

Derderian had been elected locum tenens ("caretaker") following Israelian's death, and had adhered to that position tenuously for decades before finally succumbing to demands for an election that traditionally should take place after the expiration of a 40-day mourning period.

Church sources doubt this will happen again: within days of the death of Manoogian, the brotherhood of Armenian priests in Jerusalem met in general assembly to elect a new locum tenens, giving the nod to Archbishop Aris Shirvanian, director of the Patriarchate's ecumenical and foreign relations.
It will be his job, among his other caretaker responsibilities, to pave the way for the election of Jerusalem's 97th Armenian patriarch.

In one of the highlights of Manoogian's funeral mass, celebrated in the ornate Cathedral of St James, Shirvanian bent to bless Manoogian's body, dipping his finger in a receptacle holding the holy chrism, and anointing the late patriarch's forehead and right hand.

The gesture is a tacit affirmation of the link of patriarchal succession and points to the symbolic importance of the right hand of an Armenian priest (this is the hand he uses to bless the congregation and offer communion) as evidenced by the fact that relics of Armenian saints are usually housed in golden moulds or replicas of the right hand.

Before coming to Jerusalem, Manoogian had held, reportedly to popular acclaim, the highly prestigious position of Primate of the Eastern Diocese of America, a mandate that gave him spiritual jurisdiction over tens of thousands of Armenians living on America's east coast. But he gave all that up to go and act as shepherd to a mere handful, in the city of Christ.

And Jerusalem turned out to be one mammoth challenge, a fact acknowledged by the Armenian church, as conceded by the late Catholicos of All Armenians, Vazken I, who said of Manoogian: “We see that his task is difficult: a heavy responsibility weighs upon his shoulders. “

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Manoogian’s successor as Primate, echoed the same sentiments in a eulogy: “He was one of the very few churchmen of his generation to carry the weight of our church on his shoulders. He stood out . . . and seemed to combine all the grace and dignity of the Armenian past, with all our fondest hopes and aspirations for the future. “

Like Manoogian, Barsamian is a member of the priestly Brotherhood of St James, and his name has cropped up as a potential candidate to replace succeed, a prospect he shares with half a dozen others, each no less impressive in his credentials.

Among the front-runners of the eligible candidates among the Brotherhood, two stand out: Archbishop Aris Shirvanian, the locum tenens, and Archbishop Nourhan Manoogian, the Patriarchal Vicar. The former primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Australia and New Zealand, Archbishop Aghan Baliozian, who died recently, had also been among the undeclared runners.

The Armenians of Jerusalem know that it is not going to be easy to replace Manoogian, the reformer.
"Manoogian was a visionary, an idealist, and despite his foibles, he was able to inspire and consolidate the local Armenian community which had been wrung out to dry during the previous administration," as an observer remarked.

"Under his tutelage, division lines blurred, and people began to feel once more a strong sense of unity, of belonging," he added. "Repercussions of the unhappy, traumatic age of Manoogian's predecessor lost their poignancy. Here was a man who could deliver, who cared for his flock, and showed it."

Manoogian, who was born in the desert town of Baqouba in Iraq, will best be remembered for his bold initiatives to restore faith in the Jerusalem church and its leaders, and re-establish the sense of order and stability the community had been denied during his predecessor's tumultuous reign.

At the same time, his keen interest in ecumenical affairs ensured the forging of sound brotherly ties with the other Christian churches of the Holy Land.

But he also used his skills, honed during his US stint, to promulgate firm diplomatic and political relations with local or regional governments.

Jerusalem's legendary mayor, the late Teddy Kollek, held Manoogian in high esteem and would call on him from time to time.

And as Manoogian's secretary and press officer, I accompanied him on a visit to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Gaza. As Arafat dwelt at length on the problems and tribulations facing him in the Strip, Manoogian would nod in understanding.

As we were about to leave, Arafat pulled me aside and whispered: "He is a good man. Deeru balkom 'aleh (take good care of him)."

Manoogian will be mourned long and lovingly, for behind the sorrow at his loss there is joy and pride that this reformer was able, despite all his foibles, to set the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the second most important spiritual fount for all Armenians, back on a solidly sound and secure course.

An old widow, who had cause to remember Manoogian's beneficence, summed it up with the traditional Armenian wish for the departed: "May the earth lie gently and lightly on your tomb."


Courtesy: Hetq online October 23, 2012


Armenian patriarch of Jerusalem buried

Members of the clergy pray near the coffin of Armenian
Patriarch of Jerusalem Archbishop Torkom Manoogian
 during his funeral at the Armenian Church in the Old
City of Jerusalem, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012.
Pix: Courtesy Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem- Hetq online

JERUSALEM,(Agence France Presse- AFP) October 23, 2012: The Armenian patriarch of Jerusalem, Torkom Manoogian, was buried on Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 in a funeral attended by representatives of all the Christian Churches of the Holy Land.

A respected figure among local Christians, Manoogian died on October 12 aged 93 after being in a coma since January following a stroke. He headed the Armenian Orthodox communities in Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan.

He was buried in the Armenian cemetery of St Saviors on Mount Zion, after a five-hour ceremony attended by diplomats, Israeli and Palestinian officials and leaders of religious communities, including Muslims.

The funeral cortege included local boy scouts, Armenian seminary students and guards in the livery of Janissaries, the soldiers of the Ottoman Empire, an AFP photographer said.

Manoogian was born on February 16, 1919 in a refugee camp for survivors of the Armenian genocide, located near Baquba in the Iraqi desert.

He studied theology at the seminary of the Armenian patriarchate of Saint-Jacques in Jerusalem, and was ordained in 1939.

In 1946, he was transferred to the United States, where he served as New York's Armenian bishop and then primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America. He was elected 96th Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1990.

His successor will be elected at the end of the 40-day mourning period and must then be approved by Israel and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Archbishop Aris Shirvanian has been named as temporary replacement.

The Armenian Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, a monastic order, is one of the custodians of the Christian Holy Places, along with the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches as well as the smaller Syriac and Coptic churches.

There are currently an estimated 2,000 Armenians living in Jerusalem, compared with 16,000 in 1948 when the state of Israel was founded.

Courtesy: The Daily Star

JERUSALEM (The Associated Press-AP),October 22, 2012 — Hundreds of cloaked clergymen have marched through the narrow alleyways of the Old City of Jerusalem to lay its longtime Armenian Patriarch to rest.

Torkom Manoogian died Oct. 12 after being hospitalized since January with cardiac problems. He was 93.

Since his election in 1990, Manoogian led a dwindling following of Armenians in Jerusalem. One of the four quarters of the Old City belongs to them. Armenians have a 1,600-year presence in the city. But a combination of political forces and the draw of a better life elsewhere have seen their numbers quietly drop below 1,000 people.

Manoogian previously led the Armenian church in the United States and was outspoken about the 1915 Armenian genocide committed against his people.

Courtesy: ctpost.com

Communiqué issued by the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo

Communiqué and Call for Prayers
Issued by the Syrian Orthodox Archbishopric of Aleppo
al-Kalima Grammar School ,Aleppo

Aleppo: On Sunday 21st October 2012, a suicidal booby trapped car exploded early in the morning in the main roundabout of the New Syriac district. It left huge craters and a considerable amount of damage to the Bet Hasada’ Complex, a Syrian Orthodox’ charitable endowment, which includes an elderly Home, al-Kalima Grammar School and a Hospital

This is the second incidence, in less than twenty-four hours, to inflict suffering to our humanitarian institutions in Aleppo

Thanks be to God, again that the damages sustained were only material and no precious lives were lost. Naturally, the fear, traumatisation and horror this explosion imposed on the vulnerable elderly, recovering injured, convalescing patients, and dedicated, overstretched medical staff of these institutions are incalculable

We unreservedly condemn and deprecate the escalation of these armed manifestations, and all kinds of shelling and explosions that can only lead entrenched combatant brothers deeper into this vicious circle of violence, devastation and death
We also condemn and deplore the continuation of kidnapping, killings, demolition of infrastructure, heritages and the attrition activities aimed at the crippling of the local and national economy
The Bet Hasada’ Complex

The status quo of this conflict is apparent and demoralizing as it can only spirals to propagate the culture of anarchy, resentment and disunity, in a city which has never knowingly sustained such level of violence, destruction and decimation in its history. Until recently, we only knew affection, tolerance and a healthy co-existence of the people in our blessed city

It is heartbreaking to helplessly witness our beloved Aleppo and other Syrian cities, villages and hamlets becoming battlefields and their systematic obliteration

No one can raise the flag of victory over the heaps of such ruins and sacrilege

Therefore, we wholeheartedly call on you all to join us in prayer in support of all internal and external efforts and endeavors to achieve a lasting Cease-fire. To pray for peace and re-consolidate our shaken pillars of harmony and trust, and to hold love, security and national unity as holy aims of our Syrian solidarity

Let us hope that the blessed Eid al- Athha, will bring about truce and concord to all citizen and that Syria will be able to enjoy tranquility and calmness once again
We wish that our homeland and all citizens will enjoy every Eid, the blessings of God and the graces of Peace

Source: Aleppo Suryoye


His Holiness Karekin II Received the Italian Minister of Defense

Etchmiadzin, 17 October, 2012: On 17 October, 2012, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, received Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola the Minister of Defense of the Republic of Italy. The delegation was led by Mr. Davit Tonoyan; Deputy Minister of the Military Ministry of the Republic of Armenia and His Grace Bishop Vertanes Abrahamian, Head Chaplain of the Republic of Armenia Armed Forces Ministry.

His Holiness welcomed the guests to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Spiritual Center of All Armenians, and stated his great appreciation for the collaboration between the Ministries of Defense of the two countries. The Catholicos of All Armenians remarked that the Armenian – Italian friendship, which has existed for centuries, was demonstrated not only at the State, but also at the Church levels; the vivid example of which is the brotherly relationships between the Armenian Apostolic Church and Roman Catholic Churches.

During the course of the meeting they discussed the spiritual ministry in the RA Armed Forces. His Holiness noted with appreciation that currently more than four dozen clergyman fulfill their military duty by serving in the RA Armed Forces. His Holiness also mentioned that the military chaplains frequently have the opportunity to gain experience of the same kind of service in other countries.

The Pontiff of All Armenians and the Italian Defense Minister also talked about church-state relations and the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh.

Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin Information Services


His Holiness Aram I receives the representatives
 of Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and
 Catholicos of India, Monday 15 October 2012, Antelias

Antelias, October 15, 2012: During the week Metropolitan George Saliba of Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and Fr. Dr. K. M. George of Indian Orthodox Church met with Catholicos Aram I at his residence in Antelias in the presence of the Ecumenical Officer, Archbishop Nareg Alemezian.

After transmitting the greetings of their respective Patriarchs, the representatives discussed ecumenical relations in general. The Catholicos said that, irrespective of internal differences, all Orthodox Churches must work together to overcome external difficulties and challenges.

At the end of the formal meeting, Catholicos Aram I invited them to dinner.


1960th anniversary of Indian Orthodox Church, Centenary celebration of re-establishment of Catholicosate of the East on November 25

Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth
and current Dalai Lama, is the
leader of the exiled Tibetan
government in India
-Photo: wikimedia.org
Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama, leader of the exiled Tibetan government in India will address the centenary meet

Kottayam, Friday, Oct 19 2012 IST: The 1960th anniversary of Malankara Orthodox Church (the traditional name of Indian Orthodox Church) and centenary of the re-establishment of Catholicosate of East meet would be held at Ernakulam on November 25. Trustee Fr Johns Abraham Konat and Secretary George Joseph and other leaders told newsmen here today that thousands of devotees from India and abroad would participate in the meet to be held at Marine Drive.

As part of the Catholicate centenary celebrations three propaganda rallies would be taken out from different zones. Church Secretary George Joseph would lead the rally from Thiruvithankode church tomorrow and His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Paulose II,Catholicos of East would inaugurate the rally. Another rally under the leadership of trustee M G George would be taken out from Chennai on November 4 and the other rally under the leadership of Fr Johns Abraham Konat from Kannur on November 8.

Metropolitans of the church, ministers and other leaders would address the rally at different centres.

Spiritual Leader of Tibet, the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, former President of India, A P J Abdul Kalam, Chief Minister of Kerala, Oommen Chandy, Union Ministers, various religious, social and political leaders would address the centenary meet.

The church of India was founded in AD 52 by St Thomas. The Catholicte (Catholicosate) was re-established on 15th September 1912, at St. Mary's Church founded by St.Thomas in Niranam, Mar Ivanios Metropolitan of Kandanad was consecrated with the title Mar Baselios Paulose First as the first Indian Catholicose of the East. This Catholicate resided in Persia until the end of the 19th century. The Patriarch of Antioch St. Ignatius Abdul Masih II (1895-1915) relocated the Catholicate to India in 1912. The present Catholicos Baselios Marthoma Paulose II is the 109th Catholicos of the Orthodox Syrian Church of the East which includes the Indian Orthodox Church. Catholicos Baselios Marthoma Paulose II is the 8th Catholicos of India.

Communiqué issued by the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo

Aleppo, 19th October 2012: On Friday 19th October 2012 The Syrian Orthodox’ School (Bani Taghleb I), which is adjacent to the Archbishopric complex in the Sulaimania District of Aleppo, sustained a direct hit on its third floor (where the kindergarten is located

by what appeared to be a homemade mortar. Likely, Friday is a holiday in Syria therefore there were no injuries or fatalities apart from the damages to the third floor and children play area

At this juncture it is rather difficult and frankly irrelevant to know the source of the mortar. Missiles fall relentlessly and indiscriminately, day and night over all residential districts of Aleppo. Considering that the Sulaimania District is one of the hot spots of the city of Aleppo, it has its fair share. The missiles cause an untold toll of martyrdom, fatalities, injuries and great damages to utilities, infrastructure and antiquities of the oldest inhabited city in the World

What is important, now, is to join the citizens of Aleppo in our collective cry for peace and security. The Peace-loving inhabitants of Aleppo, the city of coexistence, were driven far beyond their threshold of forbearance and fatigue, due to this imposed nightmare which deprived them of the minimum dose of tranquilities known to its inhabitant and visitors

Bani Taghleb I School is about to celebrate its centenary. The Metropolitan of Aleppo; Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, who also acts as the school governor and Chairman of the board of trusties, happened to be at the school on 18th October to attend a joint meeting with the trustees, headmaster and staff to discuss the organization of the centenary celebrations and to prepare the open of the school for this academic year which is soon to be opened. Bani Taghleb I has 550 pupils. Due to the current situation and migration of the city, the school administration expects to only have about 50 students attending the school this year

The governor and the administration assessed the damages and decided that business should run as usual, and that such incidents should not deprive the young children from their basic right to education. The school should resume its usual schedule at the beginning of November, as the necessary repair work is already under way

We believe it is high time that belligerent brothers should get together to discuss the need to bring about ceasefire, co-operate to re-establish security and bring back the life to our beloved city, so Aleppians can celebrate Eid and festivities in the usual joyful customary ways and usher the start of a new era of reform and justice

Syrians will never allow Syria to fall and its resurrection is imminent

Source:Aleppo Suryoye

Orthodox Church of the East celebrates Re-establishment centenary of Catholicate of the East

His Holiness Baselius Marthoma
Paulose II Catholicose of the East
on theApostolic Throne
of St. Thomas

Kottayam, India: The Orthodox Syrian Church of the East celebrates its Centenary of the re-establishment of Catholicosate of East in India. The Catholicate (Catholicosate) was re-established on 15th September 1912 by consecrating Mar Ivanios, the Metropolitan of Kandanad as the first Indian Catholicose of the East with the title Mar Baselios Paulose I at St. Mary's Church in Niranam, founded by St.Thomas, the Apostle of Jesus Christ. The Catholicate was headquartered in Persia until the end of the 19th century. The Patriarch of Antioch St. Ignatius Abdul Masih II (1895-1915) relocated the Catholicate to India in 1912.

St.Thomas established the Orthodox Syrian Church of the East and is recognized as its first Head or Catholicos. The lineage of the Catholicos of the East starts from the Apostle Thomas, continuing with the bishops of Edessa and Archbishops in Selucia-Ctesiphon. In 410 AD, Mar Isaac first used the title Catholicos of the East. Since then, the Catholicos has claimed jurisdiction over all Christians of the East outside the Roman Empire.

The Catholicosate of the Orthodox Syrian Church of the East was then moved to Tigris and Mosul in Iraq following the Nestorian Schism in the church. In 1860, the office of Catholicosate was merged into the Orthodox Syrian Patriarchate of Antioch as per the decision of the Synod held at Deyrul' al Zafran Monastery (Kurkkumo Dayro) under the Orthodox Syrian Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius Ya`qub II. The Orthodox Syrian Patriarchate of Antioch took over the autonomous Malankara Archdioceses of the Orthodox Syrian Church of the East in 1876 at the Mulanthuruthi Council (Synod) convened by the Patriarch Mar Ignatius Peter III.

His Holiness Baselios Paulose I, the
first Indian Catholicose of the East
The Catholicosate of the East was revived and re-established by St. Ignatius Abdul Masih II , the Patriarch of Antioch in the year 1912 AD. As per the request of the Malankara Church, Patriarch St. Abdul Messiah II, with the assistance of the members of the Malankara Episcopal Synod installed Mar Ivanios Paulose of Kandanad Diocese as the first Indian Catholicos of the Orthodox Syrian Church of the East and gave the title Mar Baselios. The installation was on 15 Sept. 1912 at the Niranam Church, founded by St. Thomas.

After the consecration of the Catholicos of the East, Mar Baselios Paulose I the Patriarch St. Ignatius Abdul Masih II issued two Patriarchal bulls (Kalpanas) declaring the importance, privileges, powers and functions of the Catholicose. The Church is now administered as per the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church constitution adopted in 1934 which was passed by the Malankara Syrian Christian Association. The Association is a fully representative body of the church with elected members -priests and laymen -from all the Parish Churches. One priest and laymen 1 to 10 depending on the number of members in each parish are the members of the Association. There are about 1400 parishes under the Church. It is the Association which elects the Catholicos of the East and the Malankara Metropolitan of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and also the Bishops.
St. Ignatius Abdul Masih II
 The Patriarch of Antioch (1895-1915)

It has around 30 Million faithful worldwide with thirty Metropolitan Dioceses. The present headquarters of the Orthodox Syrian Church of the East is at Devalokam (Kottayam), in the Indian state of Kerala. The present Catholicos-Patriarch His Holiness Baselius Mar Thoma Paulose II, was enthroned to the Apostolic throne of Saint Thomas in 2010 and is the 109th Catholicos of East.

The Centenary Celebrations of re-establishment of Catholicosate of the East will conclude on 25th November 2012 at Ernakulam. Spiritual Leader of Tibet, Dalai Lama, the former President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Chief Minister of Kerala, Oommen Chandy, Union Ministers, various religious, social and political leaders are scheduled to participate in the conference to commemorate the centenary of Catholicosate re-establishment.


Orthodox churches reflect on WCC Assembly theme

Geneva,18.10.12: Orthodox churches have reaffirmed their commitment to "unity, justice and peace" saying that the "supreme act of God`s love is the economy of salvation". This and other theological reflections were shared in an inter-Orthodox consultation in Kos, Greece this week.

The consultation took place from 11 to 17 October. It brought together representatives of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches to prepare for the World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th Assembly, which will take place from 30 October to 8 November 2013 in Busan, Republic of Korea.

The participants shared diverse theological reflections on the theme of the assembly "God of life, lead us to justice and peace". These reflections provide an Orthodox contribution to the WCC Assembly.

The participants expressed their commitment to pray and work together for justice, peace and Christian unity in a communiqué issued at the end of consultation.

"The supreme act of God`s love is the economy of salvation, which is understood as the re-creation and restoration of humanity. The call for unity, justice and peace remains our calling today, as our incarnate Lord prayed for these before His passion (Jn. 17)," the communiqué reads.

The participants also offered prayers for Greece, expressing hope for a resolution of the economic crisis currently faced by the country. Prayers for peace in Syria were also shared at the consultation, initiated by the Orthodox churches in the Middle East.

The event was held at the invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I and was hosted by Metropolitan Nathanael of Kos and Nisyros.

News from WCC

Read full text of the communiqué

Document date: 19.10.2012

Inter-Orthodox Pre-Assembly Consultation

For the 10th Assembly in Busan, Korea, 2013

„God of life, lead us to justice and peace”

Kos, Greece, 11-17 October 2012


1. At the initiative of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and under invitation of H.A.H. the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and with the gracious auspices of H. E. Metropolitan Nathanael of Kos and Nisyros, representatives of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches met on the island of Kos, Greece to reflect on the theme of the 10th WCC Assembly, to prepare themselves for the Assembly in Busan, and to provide their theological contribution to the next WCC Assembly in 2013. The co-moderation of the consultation was ensured by H. E. Metropolitan Prof Dr. Gennadios of Sassima on behalf of the Eastern Orthodox Church and H. E. Metropolitan Mor Eustathius Matta Roham on behalf of the Oriental Orthodox Church.

2. It has been a custom for the last thirty years in the World Council of Churches to convene an Inter-Orthodox consultation prior to its Assemblies. The main purpose of the meeting was to study, discuss, and reflect on the main theme and the sub-themes of the next Assembly from an Orthodox perspective in order to serve as a preparation for all participants in Busan and to express their expectations of the next WCC Assembly and beyond. Thirty-seven hierarchs, priests, university professors, lay men and women and youth were warmly welcomed by. H. E. Metropolitan Nathanael of Kos and Nisyros at the opening session with the inauguration of a new chapel in which all delegates participated, as well as local clergy, lay and local authorities. After an introduction about the aim of the consultation and the presentation of activity reports reflecting Orthodox contributions to the WCC and the WCC responses to the Orthodox, the consultation concentrated on theological reflection about the Assembly theme. Keynote speeches by participants developed the theme from various perspectives.

3. In Orthodox theology, the “God of Life” is understood in a Trinitarian way. The Triune God is the God of Life for all creation because He created the world, and maintains and protects it as an expression of His love. The supreme act of God`s love is the economy of salvation, which is understood as the re-creation and restoration of humanity. The call for unity, justice and peace remains our calling today, as our incarnate Lord prayed for these before His passion (Jn. 17). As Orthodox, we are committed to cooperate with all Christians for the sake of justice, peace and unity on the basis of Christ`s message and God`s love for humanity and for all creation. While working together for justice and peace in this world, however, we are aware that complete justice and peace will be reached only in the eschaton where Christ will “fill all in all” (Eph. 1:22).

4. The consultation included also study of the Unity Statement that resulted in proposals for improving the document, as well as a detailed presentation of the Assembly venue and an introduction to the program, structure, and expected outcomes of the Assembly. Each day started with a prayer in the newly inaugurated chapel. Biblical reflections focusing on the Assembly theme were offered every morning. H. G. Bishop Hovakim Manoogian (Armenian Apostolic Church, Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin) led a special moment of prayer on Saturday, October 13, at the announcement of the passing away of the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Archbishop Torgom Manoogian.

5. The fact that the meeting took place in Greece gave participants the opportunity to have direct contact with the Greek people who are facing a deep economic crisis. The participants prayed for Greece and expressed their hope that the economic crisis will soon be overcome. The consultation in Kos offered the occasion for the delegates to visit several local parishes, to worship with them, and to be informed about daily life in Kos.

6. Members of the consultation coming from the Middle East informed the group about new developments in the region. The participants, expressing their deep concern for the escalation of violence in the region, especially in Syria, prayed for peace in the Middle East, expressing their hope that God of life will lead the region and the entire world to peace and justice.

7. The participants in the consultation approved a report of the consultation that will be shared with all participants in the Assembly as an Orthodox contribution on behalf of all Orthodox member churches.

Papal finalist elections on 29 October, name drawing on 4 November

Tue, 16/10/2012

The Coptic Orthodox Church has announced that the papal elections would be held on 29 October instead of 24 November, and that the final draw between candidates would take place on 4 November instead of 2 December.

Bishop Paul, spokesperson for the papal nominations committee, said that there will be three days of fasting from 22 to 24 October and from 31 October to 2 November.

Candidates for the position include Bishop Tawadros, who holds the title of Auxiliary Bishop for the Holy Metropolis of Beheira, and Bishop Raphael, who holds the title of Assistant Bishop for Central Cairo. The other three candidates are all monks: Raphael Ava Mina, Pachomius al-Soriany and Saravim al-Soriany. They are holding a mass on Friday at the Virgin Mary Church in Maadi.

Pope Shenouda III died on 17 March 2012 at the age of 88. He was named the Coptic Orthodox Church’s 117th pope in 1971.

After the death of Pope Shenouda III, Bishop Pachomius of Beheira was appointed as the acting patriarch until the election of a new pope, as stipulated in the regulations of the church.

According to Coptic Church traditions, and also the presidential decree in 1957, the three finalists' names will be put in a draw and a blindfolded child will choose the name of the next pope.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

With God’s grace, the Papal Nominations Committee of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church has thoroughly examined the list of 17 candidates for Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria. After giving each candidate much consideration, the list of 17 was reduced to a list of 5 names, which include:

His Grace Bishop Rofail, General Bishop for the Downtown Cairo Churches
His Grace Bishop Tawadrous, General Bishop in the Metropolitanate of El Beheira
Fr. Raphael Ava Mina
Fr. Seraphim al Souriany
Fr. Bakhomios al Souriany

The next step is to reduce this list of five candidates to only three through an election that will take place on October 29. The Coptic Orthodox Church around the world will observe a strict three-day fast from Monday, October 22 to Wednesday, October 24 to ask for God’s blessing and will in this election.

Once the election reduces the list to three candidates, the list will go through the Altar Lot process on Sunday, November 4 after the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. From this process, a single name will be chosen as the 118th Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria. The Coptic Orthodox Church around the world will observe a strict three-day fast from Wednesday, October 31 to Friday, November 2 to ask for God’s blessing and will in this process.

We pray that our Lord Jesus Christ guide us through this process and help us to choose a good shepherd for His church according to His will.

Candidates for the 118th Pope of Alexandria

Fr. Pakhomious El Souriany

Age: 49, Born in Aswan, Egypt – 1963

Education: B.S. Science & Education

Ordination: Ordained a monk in 1992, 20 years.

Profession: Math Teacher

Prior Name: Maged Makram Saleh Lawendy

Fr. Seraphim El Souriany

Age: 53, Born in Cairo, Egypt – 1959

Education: B.S. Biology, Ayn Shams University

Ordination: Ordained a monk in 1993, 19 years.

Profession: Research Lab in an American Medical Unit in Egypt

Prior Name: Aziz Ghaly Sabry Aziz

Fr. Rofail Ava Mina

Age: 70, Born in Cairo, Egypt – 1942

Education: Law Degree, Ayn Shams University

Ordination: Ordained a monk in 1969, 43 years.

Profession: Chosen as a personal deacon for HH Pope Cyril VI after graduation

Prior Name: Raphael Sobhy Tawfik

Bishop Tawadrous

Age: 60, Born in Mansor, Egypt – 1952

Education: Pharmacy Degree, Alexandria University, Seminary School Degree

Fellowship with International Health Institute, England.

Ordination: Ordained a monk in St. Pishoy Monastery 1988, and a General Bishop 1997

Profession: General Manager, Governmental Pharmaceutical manufacture, Damanhour

Prior Name: Wagih Sobhy Baky Soliman

Bishop Rofail

Age: 54, Born in Cairo, Egypt, 1958

Education: M.D., Ayn Shams University, Pope Shenouda III Seminary Graduate.

Ordination: A monk at Paramous monastery in 1990 under the name of Fr. Yostos,

Ordained a General Bishop in 1997.

Profession: Medical Doctor

Prior Name: Michael Aryan Halim


In Memoriam: Torkom Manoogian, 93, Patriarch of Jerusalem

by Arthur Hagopian, Armenian Reporter

Wednesday October 17, 2012
Jerusalem - Clouds scud across the Jerusalem sky, carrying aloft with them the hopes and aspirations of the city's tiny community of poets, artisans and dreamers, the Armenians.

As they pause in their daily labor to mourn the passing of their spiritual leader, Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, many wonder what the future holds for them and for their church, the bastion of their national entity.

The death of the 93-year-old visionary who called himself, poetically, TAM or Shen-Mah, is bound to have a profound impact not only on the life and times of the Armenians of Jerusalem, but on the Armenian diaspora as well.

Armenians all over the world regard Jerusalem, the city of Christ, as their second holiest sanctuary after Etchmiadzin, although it wasn't the quest for religious rejuvenation that first brought ancestors people to Jerusalem: they had arrived with the conquering armies of Tigranes II, a full century before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

They had stayed, settled and prospered, and bequeathed to this immortal city an invaluable legacy of ingeniousness, creativity and vitality. Jerusalem would never be what it is today without the variegated trove of Armenian contribution, among them the city's first printing press and photographic studio.

When Manoogian ascended the throne of St James as the 96th Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, he reburnished and reinforced the indelible stamp Armenians have left on the city.

And following in the footsteps of illustrious predecessors like the legendary Baron Der and Gregory the Chainbearer, he set in motion a new era of glasnost and perestroika, qualities in dire need at the time.

Among his most memorable achievements are the computerization of the Patriarchate's records, the overhaul of its filing, accounting and database systems and the renovation of dilapidated priestly quarters.

Caught up in the refreshing breezes his advent had launched, life in the moribund Armenian enclave, which occupies more than one sixth of the Old City, took on a new, invigorated meaning.

There was a feeling of almost tangible euphoria in the wake of his election, and there were many who wistfully wished he had come earlier to Jerusalem.

To keep the Armenian diaspora well informed about the Patriarchate and about Jerusalem, he set up a press office (and asked this correspondent to head it) which churned out a steady stream of articles, newsletters and press releases over the years.
Torkom Manoogian with Yasser Arafat and
 Michele Sabbah at Ramallah, 2001

Manoogian had come home. His destiny had driven him from the deserts of Mesopotamia to the golden domes of Jerusalem, on a journey of devotion and dedication, in the service of the Armenian church to which he gave his all.

A prolific writer, his most recent oeuvre was a translation of Shakespeare's sonnets into Armenian.

But his favorite topic was what he called the "impossible love."

"It's the ability, nay, the gift, to be able to love your enemy, to forgive love those who hate you and would do you ill," he explained to me.

A gifted musician, he became the acknowledge authority on the Armenian nations' greatest musical genius, Gomidas.

I remember visiting him two years ago, when he was in the initial stages of Parkinson's, and sitting silently for long minutes, waiting for him to speak. He had great difficulty finding the words until I broached the subject of his book on Gomidas.

The moment he heard the name, his face lit up and he launched into an impassioned discourse.

Manoogian was born on Feb 16, 1919 in a refugee camp near the sand-enshrouded Iraqi town of Baqoubah. As a child, he attended a school in Baghdad, the capital, that Armenians who had sought refuge from the Turkish massacres, had established.

Towards the end of his early schooling, tentative yearnings for something spiritually loftier became insistent, assailing his waking and sleeping hours, demanding satisfaction, and ultimately guiding him in the direction of Jerusalem.

He was ordained celibate priest in 1939 and remained in the city until 1946 when he traveled to the US, only to return a few years later.

Ten years were to pass before America called again. But this time he reached its shores as Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian church.

He was elected patriarch of Jerusalem on March 22, 1990.

Throughout his life, Manoogian garnered numerous honors and tributes, both from religious and lay institutions, among them the US Statue of Liberty Medal.

He was also chosen "Man of the Year" by "Religion in American Life." He nurtured a keen interest in ecumenical affairs and has been instrumental in helping maintain the spirit of brotherly relations between the various religious institutions in Jerusalem. (In the US, he had also served on the Board of the National Council of Churches of Christ).
Manoogian had dreams of not only revitalizing Armenian Jerusalem, but also of expanding and reinforcing the Armenian presence here. One of his most ambitious plans was to construct a hostel for pilgrims on land owned by the Patriarchate, but it never got off the drawing board - city hall had other plans of its own.

Manoogian will be remembered as a caring shepherd and reformer. Under his tenure, the Patriarchate workforce almost quadrupled: there were more employees within the confines of the Convent of St James, seat of the Jerusalem Patriarchate, than there were people living there.

And he made sure that paychecks were disbursed on time, a welcome departure from past practices.

When Manoogian arrived on the scene, he discovered chaos. His unrelenting efforts to instill a sense of order and accountability into Patriarchal affairs, have proved successful, to a degree.

"Much still remains to be done," as one clerical source confided.

A perennial diplomat, Manoogian meticulously maintained smooth relations with both sides of the political divide in the country. The aura of charisma that enveloped him and his standing in the Armenian world, could have very easily secured him the highest accolade the church could ever grant: Catholicos (supreme head) of All Armenians. But although he served as Locum Tenens following the death of Catholicos Vazken I, he felt he would never leave Jerusalem.

He was the son of a people that had endured and survived wars and cataclysms, but that had not learned to turn their heart into stone.

Manoogian will be buried on Oct 22, in the Armenian cemetery on Mount Zion, just outside the towering walls of the Old City, bare weeks after the Armenian church mourned another of its princes, Archbishop Aghan Baliozian, Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Australia and New Zealand.

Who will be the 97th Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem?

No one will know, until election day. For now, as tradition demands, the residence of the 96th Patriarch has been sealed, guarding his secrets and his dreams.

His triumphs and tribulations remain public knowledge.


Armenian Reporter


Mar Demetrios Youhanon Enthroned as the Metropolitan of Delhi

New Delhi, October 7, 2012: The enthronement (Sunthroniso) ceremony of bishop Youhanon Mar Demetrios as the Delhi diocesan Metropolitan was held at the St. Mary’s Orthodox Church in New Delhi.

The Catholicose of the East, His Holiness Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II, who is the supreme head of the Orthodox Syrian Church of the East, led the two-hour-long ceremony.
59-year-old Demetrios, the third Metropolitan of the Church, succeeds Bishop Paulose Mar Gregorios (1975-1996) and Bishop Job Mar Philoxenos (1996-2011) of the diocese, which is spread over Delhi NCR, the UAE and some parts of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab.

Indian Orthodox Church announces project for senior citizens

A new project to provide care for the elderly across caste, creed and religion was inaugurated here by the Orthodox Syrian Church of the East.

The new project, 'Job Mar Philoxenos Healthcare Foundation', was announced today at the enthronement ceremony of His Eminence Youhanon Mar Demetrios as the third metropolitan of the Delhi diocese. "There are large number of our elders in our society where their children do not stay with them. Many of them are lonely. It is the duty of our Church to care for them and this will not be exclusive to the members of the Orthodox community," said His Holiness Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II, the supreme Pontiff of the 2,000-year-old Church.

This is the latest project of Delhi diocese of the Kerala -based Church in its 60 years of existence in North India. Earlier, it has set up many health-care delivery centres including those in Aya Nagar in the outskirts of Delhi, Shantigram in Mandavar village of Haryana as well as in Kanpur.

Catholicos of the East Calls-On Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India

Catholicos of the East, His Holiness Baselios
 Marthoma Paulose II meeting the President of
 India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee,in New Delhi on
 October 6, 2012. The Metropolitan of the Diocese
 of Delhi, Dr. Yuhanon Mar Demetrios is also seen.

NEW DELHI: Supreme head of the Orthodox Syrian Church of the East which includes the Indian Orthodox Church, Catholicos His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, visited the President of the Republic of India His Excellency Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Saturday, October 6, 2012.

The Metropolitan of the Diocese of Delhi His Eminence Dr. Yuhanon Mar Demetrios, Lay Trustee of the Church M G George Muthoot, Fr. M.S. Scaria Ramban, Fr. Philip M. Samuel, Deacon Jis Johnson accompanied the Supreme Pontiff to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The Kerala-based Indian Orthodox church of the East dates back to 52 AD when St Thomas, one of the direct disciples of Jesus Christ, came to India. With 3 million followers all over the world in 30 Metropolitan dioceses, this year Orthodox Church of the East is also celebrating the centenary of the Re-establishment of Catholicate (Catholicosate) of the East in India.

The headquarters of the Orthodox Syrian Church of the East was first in Edessa. This was moved to Selucia-Ctesiphon, the capital of Persian Empire, then to Tigris and Musal (Mosul) in Iraq. It was transferred and restored in Malankara (Kerala), India in 1912 by the canonical Patriarch of Antioch St. Ignatius Abdul Masih II. The present headquarters is at is at Devalokam (Kottayam), in the southern Indian state of Kerala. His Holiness Baselius Paulose II is the 109th reigning Catholicos of the East and 21st reigning Malankara Metropolitan and as such, Supreme Head of the Orthodox Syrian Church of the East.

Sorrow over the death of Patriarch Torkom II

Geneva,16.10.12: The World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary has expressed deep sorrow over the death of Armenian Apostolic Patriarch Torkom II Manoogian, primate of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Torkom II passed away on 12 October at the age of 96.

“The WCC mourns his death as it is a loss to the Armenians all over the world, and to the Christians in the Middle East to whom he dedicated his whole life and ministry in Christ,” said Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, the WCC general secretary.

“His Beatitude’s contributions towards reconciliation and peace with justice in the Holy Land will be remembered by all the churches for a long time.”

“I had the honour and opportunity to meet with His Beatitude and be inspired by his deep pastoral experience and wisdom,” added Tveit.

Under the leadership of Torkom II, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem was engaged in several initiatives for peace in the Holy Land by the WCC, including the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine/Israel.

Born in the city of Bakouba in Iraq, Torkom II studied at the Theological Seminary of the Armenian Patriarchate of St James in Jerusalem. He was ordained deacon in 1936 and priest in 1939. He also spent several years in the United States, where he served as primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America.

As an ecumenist and theologian Torkom II made significant contributions to the debates related to peace in the Holy Land and history of the Armenian genocide. He was also a poet and a musician.

The funeral of Patriarch Torkom II will take place on 22 October in Jerusalem.

News from WCC

Read full text of WCC general secretary’s condolence message

Condolence letter to Armenian Orthodox churches on passing away of Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Torkom Manoogian

Your Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians,Your Eminence Archbishop Nourhan Manougian, Locum Tenens,
Respected members of the Holy Synod of the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem,Dear Brothers of the Brotherhood of St. James,

Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live…
John 11:25
It is with great sorrow that we received the news of the passing away of His Beatitude Patriarch Torkom II on Friday, October 12, 2012. The WCC mourns his death as it is a loss to the Armenians all over the world, and to the Christians in the Middle East to whom he dedicated his whole life and ministry in Christ.

During my several visits to Jerusalem, I had the honour and opportunity to meet with His Beatitude and be inspired by his deep pastoral experience and wisdom and his devotion to the service of the Lord. Being himself a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, and born in a refugee camp near Baghdad, made him sensitive to and compassionate in regard to the sufferings of both Palestinian and Israeli peoples. His Beatitude’s contributions towards reconciliation and peace with justice in the Holy Land will be remembered by all the churches for a long time.

With this message, we wish to express to Your Holiness and to the Brotherhood of St. James our deepest sympathy during these moments, hoping that our incarnated loving and merciful Lord will give you all the consolation and hope you need.

May His Beatitude Torkom II rest in peace, and his memory remain kept in the Lord's mind and in the heart of the ecumenical family.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC general secretary


Armenian Apostolic Church blesses weddings of its adherents alone

YEREVAN, OCTOBER 15, ARMENPRESS. Armenian Apostolic Church does not encourage interreligious marriages, but neither prohibits them. In this respect religious adherence of a couple is of a certain importance. This was said in a conversation with "Armenpress" by General Supervisor and Director of the "Hayordats Tner" Organization of the Armenian Apostolic Church Archimandrite Komitas Hovnanyan. Father Komitas said: "If one of the couple is a Muslim, then how can he marry a Christian? It is the same as a Christian girl goes to marry in a Muslim Mosque, what is no way acceptable. You cannot marry until you don’t accept the preaching of any church, not only that of Christian church".
In the opinion of the priest, at the marriage of a couple Armenian Church takes into consideration adherence of those persons to Armenian Apostolic Church. The archimandrite said: "Only those who adhere to Armenian Apostolic Church, who are believers of the Armenian Church. Therefore, our church is never engaged in proselytisation, thus there is no tradition of converting representatives of other nations into Armenian Apostolic Church". Holy Father added that this is the reason our church is called national.
There is no prohibition for second marriage, notwithstanding, there are some limitations. Archimandrite Komitas Hovnanyan said: "In cases of the absence of a spouse without any news for seven years, or in case of death of a spouse or if wife or husband cannot have children second marriage is allowed". 



Antelias:The recently nominated committee, consisting of 24 linguists from Canada, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Portugal, Syria, Turkey and the United States of America, began their work on 3 October 2012, in Antelias. After consultation they proposed the following:
1.To draw a final plan of action after receiving comments from specialists not represented on the committee.
2.Compile a list of common mistakes in Western Armenian and propose correct versions.
3.Prepare a new dictionary for new technical words and expression.
4.Initiate and sustain the work in consultation with experienced specialists and experts, and listen to all suggestion.
All interested linguists are invited to contact the secretary of the committee, Mr. Sarkis Guiragossian by writing to the following address: edu@armenianorthodoxchurch.org


Syrian Christians Fear Violent Backlash From Uprising


By Dominic Evans

Sept 12 (Reuters) - In a walled churchyard in the old city of Damascus, a small group of Syrians debate whether the time has come to flee one of Christianity's ancient heartlands.

Members of a Christian community which stretches back 2,000 years, they worry that Syria's civil war can have no happy outcome and they face an upheaval that fellow believers have already suffered elsewhere in the Middle East.

"The future is full of fear," said one man who gave only his first name, Rami. "We hope our fate will not be that of the Christians of Iraq, but nothing is guaranteed. Now we meet in church rather than cafes because we're afraid of being bombed."

Rami's friends were gathered at the Evangelical Church in the ancient Bab Touma quarter of Damascus - the city where Saint Paul began his mission to spread Christianity - a few days before Pope Benedict is due to visit neighbouring Lebanon.

As evening shadows lengthened after a Sunday service, the young men and women found temporary sanctuary in the churchyard from the civil war which has already displaced many of them.

Anticipation of Benedict's Middle East trip has done little to lift the mood of despair which grips the estimated two million Christians in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad is battling a 17-month-old uprising against his rule.

Few Christians have supported the revolt, fearful for their future if the country's majority Sunni Muslims choose an Islamist leadership to replace decades of ruthless but secular Assad family rule.

Neighbouring Iraq, where sectarian violence after the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein forced half the Christians to flee, offers frightening parallels, while the revival of Sunni Islamists in the 2011 Arab uprisings in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt also fills Syria's Christians with foreboding.

Many now say they will be losers whatever the outcome of Assad's struggle to hold on to power - suffering alongside the rest of the country if the conflict persists, and particularly vulnerable if their fear of an Islamist victory comes to pass.

"I'm thinking about leaving the country if Islamists rule Syria," said a Catholic antiques trader in Damascus. "I expect reprisals against Christians."


Syria's Christians, who make up less than 10 percent of the 23 million population, include Greek Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, Maronite and Melkite Greek Catholic faithful.

Already thousands have left, part of a larger tide of displaced Syrians escaping the conflict in which opposition groups say 27,000 people have died.

Amid the relentless and increasingly sectarian violence, it is hard to know whether Christians have been victims of targeted attacks or swept up in the broader, indiscriminate bloodshed.

The Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, Yohana Ibrahim, told Reuters that hundreds of Christian families had fled in recent weeks as rebels and soldiers battle for control of the country's biggest city.

"In its modern history Aleppo has not seen such critical and painful times as the last few weeks. Christians have been attacked and kidnapped in monstrous ways and their relatives have paid big sums for their release," he said.

In the central city of Homs, which saw the heaviest bloodshed earlier this year, he said several churches and Christian centres had been damaged in the fighting.

"Until a few months ago the idea of escaping had not crossed the minds of the Christians, but after the danger worsened it has become the main topic of conversation."

Many fled to Lebanon, Turkey, Cyprus or Egypt, while Armenian Christians in Aleppo were preparing to evacuate to Armenia, he said in emailed responses to questions.


Christian reluctance to join the revolt often goes further into outright support for the 47-year-old president, who himself is from a minority faith.

Assad's Alawite community, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam which has dominated the country's ruling class for four decades, is about the same size as the combined Christian population.

Paolo Dall'Oglio, an Italian Jesuit priest who was expelled from Syria in June after three decades in the country, said some priests and bishops were pressured into supporting Assad, while others did so because they sympathised with authorities.

"There are a lot of Christians that are against the regime, doing a lot of work, especially on humanitarian level in the street, for the people," he said by telephone. "(But) for cultural and security reasons, our religious leadership has sided with the regime and still are doing that."

Those perceived ties with the Syrian leadership are likely to fuel rebel resentment against Christians - a danger which Dall'Oglio said he warned of when the uprising first broke out.

"I said to the Vatican one and a half years ago: 'If we do nothing, we will be kicked out'. And this is what is happening," he said. "So this is nothing to be astonished about. A lot to be upset, sorrowed and bitter, but not to be astonished about."

Dall'Oglio, now an active supporter of the Syrian opposition, said Pope Benedict had always been clear in his support for freedom and rights.

"But the diplomacy of the Vatican has been very weak, probably weakened by the official attitudes of the local bishops and officials," he said, adding he had just completed an eight-day fast "for the pope's visit and the future of this country".


Some Christians have held prominent positions under Assad including defence minister Daoud Rajha, assassinated on July 18 in a bombing which killed three other top security officials.

Others have taken leading roles in the political opposition to Assad's rule, including the writer Michel Kilo who was jailed in 2007 for demanding reforms and George Sabra, who ran for presidency of the opposition Syrian National Council.

In an open letter to Christians last week, Sabra said it was not too late to throw their support behind the revolution.

"Your place in the ongoing battle for freedom across the country is still reserved, and your participation is requested," he wrote. "What is left of a Christian's Christianity if he is not with the cause of freedom and... building his country?"

Authorities "are spreading fabricated fear in your ranks about your Muslim brothers by talking about al Qaeda and extremist Salafists," Sabra said.

That message has had little impact in some quarters of Damascus, where Christians, Druzes and Shi'ite Muslims have formed armed vigilante groups allied to Assad against the mainly Sunni Muslim rebels.

"They want to force us to emigrate like in Iraq. To empty the region of Christians," said Youssef, outside the Damascus church. "At the start of the crisis we were neutral, although privately we were with the regime."

"But now we want to arm ourselves in self defence - we have relatives who have been killed".

Proud of their long history in Syria, which predates the Muslim presence by six centuries, Christians say their culture, literature and arts has been central to Syria's development.

"Syrian society needs Christians and this is what we want to stress to our children - that however hard the situation, they should be patient," said Gregorius Lahham, the Greek Melkite Patriarch of Antioch, in Turkey.

But in the courtyard of the Evangelical Church, his efforts to reassure cut little ice.

"Why is Benedict not coming to Damascus to defend our presence?" asked Lina, outside the church. "We are the foundation of this region. Christianity emerged from here and now we see it ending. We are the last Christians here."