“His Eminence Aram’s resignation would solve everything”

Emphasizing that the notice from the governor’s office rendered the patriarchate dysfunctional, His Eminence Sahak Maşalyan stated that a meeting should be held in governor’s office immediately, His Eminence Aram should resign and His Eminence değabah Karekin Bekçiyan should take up the position.

Yesterday, after Karekin Bekçiyan is elected as the değabah with 23 votes, General Vicar of the Patriarch Aram Ateşyan announced that a notice was sent from the governor’s office. In this notice, it is stated, “starting the election process is legally impossible.”

His Eminence Sahak Maşalyan spoke to Agos concerning the developments:

“It was a historic day. We formed a religious assembly and elected a değabah in accordance with our practices, traditions and religious rules. Everyone accepted and affirmed it, but then a notice from the governor’s office brought us down. I don’t know what the next step is, but there is a misunderstanding.  There are some points in that notice that should be explained. We have to make an appointment as soon as possible, demand those explanations from the governor and present our explanations. This is a religious matter. We all feel frustrated by the fact that the secular state crossed this line and interfered in a religious matter.”

“Storm in our church”

The meeting in the patriarchate was started at 3 pm, but the notice from the governor’s office was faxed at 1.47 pm. We asked about this issue to Sahak Maşalyan:

“There are two possibilities. Either it came earlier and it wasn’t going to be revealed if Ateşyan was elected; or it was designed as a notice that would be revealed if Ateşyan loses. We don’t know. However, the problem is that this notice caused a storm in our church once again. We should handle the situation calmly. The last thing we want is to clash with the state. I hope our freedom of belief is restored.”

“According to ecclesiastical law, Ateşyan is longer the vicar”

Reminding the talks in Etchmiadzin after the protocol crisis, Maşalyan emphasized that Ateşyan should step down:

“Of course, His Eminence Aram has great responsibility. In fact, his resignation would solve everything. The assembly that had chosen Ateşyan as the vicar also elected its değabah. Election of His Eminence Karekin as the değabah is as official and lawful as his being the vicar. We should explain this to the governor. State’s interference is hard to accept and understand for us. All clerics, including His Eminence Aram, accepted and celebrated our değabah, who is elected clearly. According to ecclesiastical law, His Eminence Aram is our elected değabah. And according to the same law, His Eminence Aram is no longer the vicar. Now, after this improper and untimely interference, we have a vicar who is not a vicar and a değabah who is not a değabah.”

“We don’t have a religious leader at the moment”

“This decision of the state rendered our church dysfunctional. After the election, the Clerical Assembly is supposed to convene under the leadership of Değabah and clerics are ordered by değabah. This means that the assembly cannot convene now, since His Eminence Aram is not değabah and state cannot make him our vicar by force. No assembly can function now. We don’t have a religious leader at the moment.”

“Governor’s appointment is uncertain”

“His Eminence Aram should have made a statement after the notice was sent, but he didn’t. He said that revealing the notice and the records of our meeting is enough. According to the meeting, His Eminence Karekin became değabah. And according to the notice, His Eminence Aram is vicar. Of course, His Eminence Aram has great responsibility in terms of clearing the way for his people and church. We will apply to the governor’s office for making an appointment. His Eminence Aram said that he will make a written application. However, we know the fate of that application very well.”



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