VIS: Armenian Church: Towards full unity and communion

Vatican Information Service
03.20.2006 – Sixteenth Year – Num. 55

VATICAN CITY, MAR 20, 2006 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican, the Holy
Father received His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, patriarch of
Cilicia of the Armenians, Lebanon, accompanied by members of the patriarchal
synod and by a group of pilgrims.
In his address, the Pope recalled the history of the Armenian people over
the centuries, in particular the suffering “they underwent in the name of
the Christian faith during the years of terrible persecution, which remain
enshrined in history with the sadly meaningful name of ‘Metz Yeghern,’ the
great evil.”
Nonetheless, the Pope went on, “the Armenians, who have always sought to
integrate themselves with hard work and dignity in the societies in which
they found themselves, continue even today to bear witness to their
faithfulness to the Gospel.”
After affirming that the Armenian-Catholic community is spread over many
countries, the Pope said: “Providence placed the patriarchate of the
Armenian Catholics in the Middle East, in Cilicia and, later, in Lebanon.
All the Armenian-Catholic faithful look to that patriarchate as a solid
point of spiritual reference for their centuries-old cultural and liturgical
The Holy Father then indicated how “various Churches that recognize St.
Gregory the Illuminator as their common founding father are divided from one
another, although over the last few years they have resumed a cordial and
fruitful dialogue with the aim of discovering their shared roots. I
encourage this renewed fraternity and collaboration hoping that it may give
rise to new initiatives for a joint journey towards full unity, … with its
own hierarchy, in fraternal interior harmony and full communion with the
Bishop of Rome.”
“One comforting sign of this hoped-for unity was the celebration of the
1700th anniversary of the foundation of the Armenian Church, with the
participation of my beloved predecessor John Paul II.”
Benedict XVI concluded by saying: “We all wish to be instruments at the
disposal of Christ. May He – Who is Way, Truth and Life – enable us to
continue with all our strength, that, as soon as possible, there may be one
flock with one pastor.”