Mesrob II’s death to signal election of 85th Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople
15:59, 8 March, 2019
YEREVAN, MARCH 8, ARMENPRESS. Istanbul’s Surb Prkich Armenian Hospital Director Bedros Sirinoglu has said funeral arrangements for Mesrob II Mutafyan will be reported shortly by the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul.
Mesrob II died today aged 62 in hospital after many years of suffering from dementia. He was in a coma since 2008.
Mesrob II was elected 84th Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople in 1998.
Because of incapacitation, Archbishop Aram Atesian was appointed Patriarchal Vicar – an acting patriarch in 2010.
Despite the Turkish-Armenian community’s demand for new elections, the Turkish government has always rejected the holding of an election, citing a 1863 National Constitution article that prohibits new elections if an incumbent patriarch is alive.
In 2015, Mesrob Mutafyan was retired by the synod because of his illness.
The synod sent a request to the Istanbul Governorate asking permission to hold new elections. In 2017, a new church assembly was convened to begin the process of organizing elections. Archbishop Garegin Bekchian was elected locum tenens – or patriarchal vicar.
After many months of work, however, the Turkish government declared they do not recognize the church assembly’s decisions. The government said it doesn’t recognize Bekchyan as patriarchal vicar and that new elections cannot be held because Mutafyan is still alive.
Eventually Bekchyan left Turkey, and Atesyan continued serving as vicar. However, a large part of the local Armenian community was unhappy with Atesyan’s tenure.
After Mutafyan’s death, it is expected that the Patriarchate will begin the process of holding an election of the 85th Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople.
Edited and translated by Stepan Kocharyan