Mutafyan superannuated, election on the way

The Clerical Assembly of the Patriarchate of Turkey decided to superannuate the Patriarch Mesrob II on the ground that he has been unable to perform his duty for 7 years. It is announced that there will be an application for starting the election process.

The Clerical Assembly of the Patriarchate of Turkey came together in a meeting led by Archbishop Sahak Maşalyan for discussing the situation of Patriarch Mesrob II. The Assembly decided to superannuate the Patriarch Mesrob II on the grounds that he has been unable to perform his duty for 7 years and the medical reports indicat that there is no change for his recovery. It is also announced that Patriarch Mesrob II will be referred as the retired patriarch and there will be an application for starting the election process.

Since 2008, Patriarch Mesrob has been unable to perform his duty because of his medical condition. On June 29, 2010, the state allowed to choose a vicar. On June 30, Archbishop Aram Ateşyan was assigned as the General Vicar of the Patriarch. From the beginning, there has been criticism against this development, since Ateşyan wasn’t elected. Armenian society has been demanding an election. There had been protests and newspaper ads expressing this demand. The reactions of prominent civilian figures in Armenian society and the disturbance in the Clerical Assembly have been known for a while. There have been plans for launching new campaigns for holding a patriarchal election. 

The Clerical Assembly put an end to the ongoing debate. Opinion leaders of the Armenian society agree on the need of a fast election process. Legal experts state that no permission is needed for holding an election and a written notice would be enough.

“There is an Enterprising Committee”

An Enterprising Committee should be formed in order to start the election process. This committee is in charge of handling the processes like making an application for election and assigning delegates from the Armenian society. The Enterprising Committee had been formed on December 16, 2009. Lawyers Setrak Davuthan and Sebu Aslangil, who are the members of the Committee, have been struggling for holding an election for a long time and they stated that the committee is still in charge.  

Aslangil also stated that the Committee should start to work immediately:  “The committee is still in charge. The Patriarchate should contact to the Committee. There are cases in progress concerning the patriarchal election, which are also managed by the Committee. If they prefer to form a new committee, the process would be longer.”

“No need for permission”

Lawyer Setrak Davuthan also stated that the Committee should assess this decision: “I agree that the Committee is still in charge. There are cases in progress. We cannot say that the Committee is dismissed without a ruling. And there is no need for permission. A notice about the election is enough. The process of election is determined.”

“The committee is in charge”

Hosrof Köletavitoğlu, the head of the Enterprising Committee, also said that the committee is still in charge: “The Committee is formed for holding an election. Its duty won’t be fulfilled until a patriarch is elected.”

Ateşyan: “We will wait for the permission”

Archbishop Aram Ateşyan spoke to Agos about the recent development: 

“We will make a new application. We don’t know when we are given permission. It is also possible that we won’t be given permission. The process will start afterwards. Nobody will do anything until the permission is given.”

Maşalyan: It is the demand of all circles in the Armenian society

Leading the critical meeting of the Clerical Assembly, Maşalyan said that the application will be done on November. 

“We determined that there are contradictions concerning the applications to the state and we are responsible for it. Thus, we decided that we should be the ones who announce that the seat is vacant. The patriarch is retired; so, the seat is currently vacant. A new patriarch should be elected. We will write a petition about the election. After the petition is presented, it is state’s turn. We will wait for the answer. Next week, we will hold a press conference for giving further details.”

“There is no longer a vicar”

Chair of Surp Pırgiç Hospital Foundation Bedros Şirinoğlu said that there is no longer an obstacle to hold an election. 

“I am grateful to the ones who made this decision. They have also saved Ateşyan from possible imputations. Given the recent decision, there is no longer a vicar.

“We are very glad. We need someone to hold the Armenian society together. Nobody trusts the patriarchate anymore. The schools are going bad. There should be no competition within our society. The money of the Armenian society belongs to the whole society. Everyone should be able to use it. We need transparency.”

“The process has begun”

Representative of Minority (Community) Foundations Toros Alcan DDS PhD stated that this decision is made in accordance with the church customs, since Mutafyan has been legally unable to perform his duty over 7 years. 

“Since there is no incumbent patriarch, there cannot be a vicar too. The process should proceed like it does when a patriarch passes away.”

Pointing out that the election process will bring a new energy to the society, Alcan said: “Lack of a patriarch is the source of many problems of our society. It is a both a psychological and technical problem. A patriarch would save the society from division. Many problems will be solved with a new patriarch.”

“The civilians should be supportive”

Harut Özer stated that there is an ongoing election process and the Enterprising Committee should get back on task.

Stating that the civilians should be supportive, Özer said: “Everyone should support this decision. The foundations should express their will.”

Chair of Karagözyan Foundation Dikran Gülmezgil said that this decision should have been made earlier, but it is better late than never.