Turkish Armenian church leaders have requested prayer concerning difficulties surrounding the election of a new leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Turkey due to government interference.
As one of Turkey’s officially recognised churches, the election process for the Patriarch of Constantinople is subject to a degree of government control. The agreed process involves the appointment of a temporary church council to oversee the formal election of the new patriarch. However, the Turkish authorities have not given the necessary approval for the proposed council to convene, effectively stalling the election process.
The situation has been complicated by divisions within the Armenian community and by the persisting political tensions between Turkey and Armenia. The previous patriarch, Mesrop II, suffers ill-health and formally retired 26th October 2016. Archbishop Karekin Bekdjian was elected interim leader (Patriarch Locum Tenens) on 15th March 2017, replacing Archbishop Aram Ateshyan (Patriarchal Vicar General) who had been interim leader since 2010 due to the patriarch’s ill-health. Archbishop Ateshyan has strong political ties with the Turkish government.
It is believed that the Turkish authorities are averse to Archbishop Bekdjian, whose appointment was approved by the church in Armenia. In a notable break from tradition, no invitation was extended to the Armenian Patriarchate for Archbishop Bekdjian to join other church leaders in attending Victory Day celebration on 30th August.
MAY BE CIRCULATED TO GENERAL MAILING LISTS, OUTSIDE ORGANISATIONS, AND QUOTED FROM FREELY IN REPORTS CITING “MIDDLE EAST CONCERN” AS THE SOURCE OF THE INFORMATION.
Please pray that:
a. The Turkish authorities will stop interfering and stalling and allow the electoral process to resume
b. The new patriarch will be chosen from right motives and not for underlying political or material gain
c. The new patriarch will be a man of God who will be able to serve the Armenian community in Turkey effectively and cooperate well with other church leaders