Maşalyan: my anger overshadowed my personality

“I have the right to be the değabah (trustee), but there is a better candidate than me and His Eminence Ateşyan: His Eminence Karekin Bekdjian. I consider and suggest him as the değabah candidate with his easygoing character that would relive the tension and his years of experience in administration.”

On February 13, Bishop Sahak Maşalyan released a resignation letter, stating that he will leave the country and he won't be a patriarchal candidate. The steps that he has taken after this letter caused debates in Armenian society of Turkey. His statements in VADİP meeting on the evening of his resignation, his severe criticisms against clerics and foundation executives, the protocol he wrote in the secret meeting that was held in the patriarchate on February 16 were some of those steps that caused debate. After the meeting that was held in “Mayr Ator” in Etchmiadzin on February 23-24, Maşalyan returned to Istanbul and we asked him some questions including all those criticisms and to assess the meeting in Etchmiadzin. He preferred to send a written statement instead of answering our questions directly. Here, you will find the statement of Maşalyan that we organized in accordance with topics.

Resignation letter and its aftermath

“It was one of the hardest decisions in my life and it was expressed like a burst of emotion. This emotional character of my letter may be the reason of this social fever. Masses identified themselves with me and took action. The result was positive beyond my imagination. I cannot say that that letter and my consequent statements were perfect. Especially, my anger overshadowed my personality; I should admit that I was bold more than necessary. I wish I hadn't attended VADİP meeting right after my resignation with all my anger. Now I look back and see that I should have told what I told with a different tone. I don't remember that I insult anybody personally, but I apologize for the inappropriate language that I used for some institutions and groups. 

What happened on February 16 and the protocol

“I can say that it was as if our society is x-rayed. All cancerous tissues, diseases and genetic defects that make us weak are hidden in the analysis of that evening. However, unfortunately, this sociological material is wasted, because there is a tendency to interpret that meeting on the basis of people. If finding someone to blame would be a comfort, then fine, I am the one to blame. However, the ones who interpret that evening only through His Eminence Sahak or Şirinoğlu are utterly wrong. In my opinion, most of the criticisms are nothing but the efforts of some institutions and persons for finding a scapegoat again. They should take a good look at the x-ray. There, they will see a beheaded society that stands the the void of leadership for years; an angry crowd that got mad when all their negligence, indifference, submission and nonchalance hit them in the face on a Thursday evening.

Validity of the resignation

“None of my resignations is officially accepted. Since February 13, people have been insisting me to stay so intensely that I cannot go anywhere now. I am dressed with the golden chains of love and I am very happy with those chains. My resignation from the Clerical Assembly hasn't become official as well. My resignation might have resulted in the collapse of an institution that is already very fragile. I couldn't bear to cause more damage to this institution, which has a really important role in the process of election. And I postponed my resignation as the deputy chair of Hovagim 1461 Foundation after the election of Değabah. Right now, Hovagim 1461 is clean and spotless, because its vault is empty. Everything is legal and we are ready to be inspected anytime. We, the clerics, hold the Bible that says “The love of money is the root of all evil." For clerics, touching millions of dollars amounts to grasping the hell fire. Everyone should do their job.

Patriarchal nomination

“After the değabah and Enterprising Committee are elected, all possible candidates will be officially asked whether they will run for the election. Announcing candidacy is meaningful only on that point. It doesn't matter what they said before they are asked. Their Eminences Khajak and Viken said that they won't run for the election, but they will be asked anyway. And of course, I will be asked as well.”

Maşalyan spoke to Armenian Arevelk newspaper and said that His Eminence's Sebuh's candidacy would be risky, since “the relations with Armenia is not well.” He also explained this statement:

“That interview was done over the phone and I don't remember the details. Unfortunately, such interviews are cut sometimes. We had many precious patriarchs that came from other countries. I don't see why His Eminence Sebuh cannot be one of them. Let the people decide this. His being from Armenia can be an advantage for some people and disadvantage for some others. It is too early to talk about this. I promise that I will defend the right to be a candidate of every one.”

Meeting in Etchmiadzin

“We owe a debt of gratitude to His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II for he gave us his time. Thanks to him, we determined a peaceful course of action. Under the leadership of His Holiness, we clarified the ancient principles of the election and determined what we will do. We tried to understand each other through constructive dialog. We made peace with His Eminence Aram. I guess I managed to explain that my resentment was not about his personality, but his egocentric attitude.

We explained to His Holiness that His Eminence Aram couldn't have managed the 9-year process well and he became the main problem in the process of election. We pointed out that he has no longer the right to remain as the leader, he betrayed the trust of people and he should step down. However, His Holiness Vehapar told that he can present this complaint to an ecclesiastical court, only if there is an official application about these accusations. He stated that he hasn't received any serious complaint about His Eminence Aram in 9 years. Thus, he pointed out that His Eminence Aram has the right to be elected as the değabah.

Process of electing Değabah

"First of all, after the değabah is elected, the vicarship will be history. His Eminence promised that in the presence of Vehapar and it is recorded. Financial situation of the 9-year process will be revealed with a handover committee. The Enterprising Committee will have real authority and prevent the değabah from manipulating the election. Every month, a report about the election process will be presented to people. The Enterprising Committee will make sure that all candidates will promote themselves equally. If the election cannot be held in 6 months, a vote of confidence will be demanded for the değabah and Enterprising Committee.

In this process, we have to convince His Eminence Aram not to be a candidate of değabah, though he has the right. He shouldn't take it as a matter of pride. This renunciation would be the greatest gift that he can give to the church and it is also a golden opportunity to clear his name. Many clerics and our people cannot understand his addiction to this seat. His Eminence Aram should be freed from that seat, otherwise his soul will be poisoned in an irrecoverable way. His friends should step in right now and convince him. I want to warn my cleric brothers: if you elect His Eminence Aram as the değabah, you would do more harm than good.

I have the right to be the değabah, but there is a better candidate than me and His Eminence Ateşyan: His Eminence Karekin Bekdjian. I consider and suggest him as the değabah candidate with his easygoing character that would relive the tension and his years of experience in administration.”


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Miran Manukyan