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Reconciliation of differences between Catholic and Armenian


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Posted 12 November 2000 - 12:16 AM

Garagin II confirms the policy of Garegin I!
Basically, other than the structural, some procedural and ceremonial differences, the theological differences between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic Church are eliminated. Unity in Christ!
_____________________________________________

Vatican City
Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office
November 10, 2000

Joint Communiqué of Pope John Paul II and Catholicos Karekin II

His Holiness Pope John Paul II, Bishop of Rome, and His Holiness
Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, give
thanks to the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, for enabling them to
meet together on the occasion of the Jubilee of the Year 2000 and
on the threshold of the 1700th anniversary of the proclamation of
Christianity as the state religion of Armenia.

They also give thanks in the Holy Spirit that the fraternal
relations between the See of Rome and the See of Etchmiadzin have
further developed and deepened in recent years. This progress
finds its expression in their present personal meeting and
particularly in the gift of a relic of Saint Gregory the
Illuminator, the holy missionary who converted the king of Armenia
(301 A.D.) and established the line of Catholicoi of the Armenian
Church. The present meeting builds upon the previous encounters
between Pope Paul VI and Catholicos Vasken I (1970) and upon the
two meetings between Pope John Paul II and Catholicos Karekin I
(1996 and 1999). Pope John Paul II and Catholicos Karekin II now
continue to look forward to a possible meeting in Armenia. On the
present occasion, they wish to state together the following.

Together we confess our faith in the Triune God and in one Lord
Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, who became man for our
salvation. We also believe in One, Catholic, Apostolic and Holy
Church. The Church, as the Body of Christ, indeed, is one and
unique. This is our common faith, based on the teachings of the
Apostles and the Fathers of the Church. We acknowledge furthermore
that both the Catholic Church and the Armenian Church have true
sacraments, above all - by apostolic succession of bishops - the
priesthood and the Eucharist. We continue to pray for full and
visible communion between us. The liturgical celebration we
preside over together, the sign of peace we exchange and the
blessing we give together in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
testify that we are brothers in the episcopacy. Together we are
jointly responsible for what is our common mission: to teach the
apostolic faith and to witness to the love of Christ for all human
beings, especially those living in difficult circumstances.

The Catholic Church and the Armenian Church share a long history of
mutual respect, considering their various theological, liturgical
and canonical traditions as complementary, rather than conflicting.
Today, too, we have much to receive from one another. For the
Armenian Church, the vast resources of Catholic learning can become
a treasure and source of inspiration, through the exchange of
scholars and students, through common translations and academic
initiatives, through different forms of theological dialogue.
Likewise, for the Catholic Church, the steadfast, patient faith of
a martyred nation like Armenia can become a source of spiritual
strength, particularly through common prayer. It is our firm
desire to see these many forms of mutual exchange and rapprochement
between us improved and intensified.

As we embark upon the third millennium, we look back on the past
and forward to the future. As to the past, we thank God for the
many blessings we have received from his infinite bounty, for the
holy witness given by so many saints and martyrs, for the spiritual
and cultural heritage bequeathed by our ancestors. Many times,
however, both the Catholic Church and the Armenian Church have
lived through dark and difficult periods. Christian faith was
contested by atheistic and materialistic ideologies; Christian
witness was opposed by totalitarian and violent regimes; Christian
love was suffocated by individualism and the pursuit of personal
interest. Leaders of nations no longer feared God, nor did they
feel ashamed before humankind. For both of us, the 20th century
was marked by extreme violence. The Armenian genocide, which began
the century, was a prologue to horrors that would follow. Two
world wars, countless regional conflicts and deliberately organized
campaigns of extermination took the lives of millions of faithful.
Nevertheless, without diminishing the horror of these events and
their consequences, there may be a kind of divine challenge in
them, if in response Christians are persuaded to join together in
deeper friendship in the cause of Christian truth and love.

We now look to the future with hope and confidence. At this
juncture in history, we see new horizons for us Christians and for
the world. Both in the East and in the West, after having
experienced the deadly consequences of godless regimes and
lifestyles, many people are yearning for the knowledge of truth and
the way of salvation. Together, guided by charity and respect for
freedom, we seek to answer their desire, so as to bring them to the
sources of authentic life and true happiness. We seek the
intercession of the Apostles Peter and Paul, Thaddeus and
Bartholomew, of Saint Gregory the Illuminator and all Saintly
Pastors of the Catholic Church and the Armenian Church, and pray
the Lord to guide our communities so that, with one voice, we may
give witness to the Lord and proclaim the truth of salvation. We
also pray that around the world, wherever members of the Armenian
and the Catholic Church live side by side, all ordained ministers,
religious and faithful will "help to carry one another's burdens,
and in this way obey the law of Christ" (Gal 6: 2). May they
mutually sustain and assist one another, in full respect of their
particular identities and ecclesiastical traditions, avoiding to
prevail one over another: "so then, as often as we have the
chance, we should do good to everyone, and especially to those who
belong to our family in the faith" (Gal 6:10).

Finally, we seek the intercession of the Holy Mother of God for the
sake of peace. May the Lord grant wisdom to the leaders of
nations, so that justice and peace may prevail throughout the
world. In these days in particular, we pray for peace in the
Middle East. May all the children of Abraham grow in mutual
respect and find appropriate ways for living peacefully together in
this sacred part of the world.

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Posted 13 November 2000 - 01:44 AM

My mother was in the Vatican on this very touchy and holy litourgy. She was very happy and very inspired by this unity and grace.
She said that the whole litourgy was very Armenian and most prayers were in Armenian.

I only want to add that I pray that the Vatican will ( and can ) use its infuence to help the R. of Armenia.

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Posted 13 November 2000 - 05:29 AM

Raffi,

Vatican has been hostile to Armenia throughout centuries. The sole reason being the interpretation of the Armenian Church of the Holly Trinity. Because of this, Vatican has basically rejected the notion of Armenians being Christians, or has coined the term Armenian Heresy, when describing the theological foundations of Armenian Church.

The first significant document that Garegin I signed was the elimination of the differences. I remember only three Bishops protested it - Pargev Srbazan of Kharabagh, Tiran Srbazan of Moscow, and another one, I think from Argentina. Unfortunately, don't remember the name of the third one.

The confirmation of that document by Garegin II means that this is the official line of the Armenian Church.

My question is if this was to be done at the end of the 20th Century, why couldn't it be done centuries ago, and sparing our country from enormous hostilities?

NBy the way, I think there is nothing wrong with this new development. I am not critical of it.

The interesting thing is that our nation hasn't really realized what a dramatic change of the foundations of the Armenian Church has taken place. The reason is that our "religious community" had never understood what is it that makes the Armenian Church different from any other Christian Church.

This fact also demonstrates to me the faultiness of the association of the Armenian identity with the Church or religion.

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Posted 13 November 2000 - 07:18 AM

Vatican City
Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office
November 10, 2000

VISITA UFFICIALE A PAPA GIOVANNI PAOLO II E ALLA CHIESA DI ROMA DEL
PATRIARCA SUPREMO E CATHOLICOS DI TUTTI GLI ARMENI, KAREKIN II (8-11
NOVEMBRE 2000)

OMELIA DEL SANTO PADRE GIOVANNI PAOLO II
Traduzione in lingua inglese
«I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep»
(Jn 10:11).

1. In the year 2001, the Armenian Church will celebrate the
seventeenth centenary of the Baptism of Armenia through the
ministry of Saint Gregory the Illuminator. Following the Good
Shepherd, Saint Gregory laid down his life for his sheep. Because
of his Christian faith, he spent many years imprisoned in a dark
pit by command of King Tiridates. Only after this cruel suffering
was Gregory free once again to bear public witness to his baptismal
vocation in all its fullness and proclaim the Gospel to the men and
women of his time.

The life of Saint Gregory foreshadowed the journey of the Armenian
Church through the ages. How often has the Armenian Church been
cast into the dark pit of persecution, violence and oblivion! How
often have her children in their prison darkness echoed the words
of the Prophet Micah: But as for me, I will look to the Lord. I
will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.
Rejoice not over me, O my enemy! When I fall, I shall rise; when I
sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light (7:7-8). And this not
only in the distant past; the twentieth century too has been one of
the most tormented in the history of the Armenian Church, which
suffered terrible hardships of every kind. Now, thank God, there
are clear signs of a new springtime.

2. In today's celebration, I am delighted to return to Your
Holiness a relic of Saint Gregory the Illuminator which has been
kept in the Convent of Saint Gregory the Armenian in Naples, and
venerated there for many centuries. The relic will be placed in
the new Cathedral now being built in Yerevan as a symbol of hope
and of the Church's mission in Armenia after so many years of
oppression and silence. A place in the heart of a fast-growing
city in which to praise God, to listen to Sacred Scripture and to
celebrate the Eucharist will be an essential factor of
evangelization. I pray that the Holy Spirit will fill that sacred
place with his loving presence, glorious light and sanctifying
grace. My hope is that the new Cathedral will adorn with still
greater beauty the Bride of Christ in Armenia, where the People of
God have lived for centuries in the shadow of Mount Ararat.
Through the intercession of the Mother of God and Saint Gregory the
Illuminator, may the Armenian faithful draw new courage and
confidence from their Cathedral. And may the pilgrims coming from
far and wide experience the power of God's light radiating from
that holy shrine as they continue their journey of faith.

3. In the Cathedral of Yerevan, as in all others, there will be
the Altar of the Eucharist and the Patriarchal Chair. The Chair
and the Altar speak of the communion which already exists between
us. As the Second Vatican Council declared, all know the love with
which Christians of the East celebrate the Sacred Liturgy,
especially the Eucharist, well-spring of the Church's life and
pledge of future glory, in which the faithful united with the
Bishop have access to God the Father through the Son, the Word
Incarnate who died and was glorified, by the outpouring of the Holy
Spirit. The Council Fathers went on to say that the Eastern
Churches, however separated they may be, have true Sacraments and
above all, by virtue of the Apostolic Succession, the Priesthood
and the Eucharist, by means of which they remain united with us by
the closest bonds (Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio, 15).

Through history there have been many contacts between the Catholic
Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church; and there have been
various attempts to restore full communion. Now we must pray and
work fervently that the day will soon come when our Sees and the
Bishops will be in full communion once more, when we can celebrate
together, at the same Altar, the Eucharist as the supreme sign and
source of unity in Christ. Until that day dawns, each of our
Eucharistic celebrations will suffer the absence of the brother who
is not yet there.

4. Dear and venerable Brother in Christ, Saint Paul speaks to us
in the words we have heard from the Acts of the Apostles: Take
heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit
has made you overseers, to care for the Church of God, which he
acquired with his own blood (20:28). Ours is a great
responsibility. Christ has entrusted to our pastoral care that
which is most precious to him on earth: the Church which he
acquired with his own blood.

I beg the Lord, through the intercession of Saint Gregory the
Illuminator, to pour out his abundant blessings upon you, my
Brothers in the Episcopate, and upon all the Pastors of the
Apostolic Armenian Church. May the Spirit inspire and guide you in
your pastoral ministry to the Armenian people, both in the land of
your birth and throughout the world. To your fraternal prayer I
entrust my own ministry as Bishop of Rome: that I may be able to
exercise this ministry more and more as a service of love
recognized by all concerned (Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint, 95),
so that all will at last be one (cf. Jn 17:21).

5. Let me conclude with the fervent plea which I made to the
Mother of God thirteen years ago, during the Marian Year, and which
rises from my heart again today:

O holy Mother of God, ... look upon the land of Armenia, upon its
mountains, where a countless host of holy and learned monks have
lived; look upon its churches, upon the rocks which rise from
rocks, filled with the radiance of the Trinity; look upon the stone
crosses, memorials of your Son, whose Passion continues in the
suffering of the martyrs. Watch over the sons and daughters of
Armenia throughout the world... Inspire the desires and hopes of
the young, that they may remain always proud of their origins.
Grant that, wherever they may go, they will listen to their
Armenian heart, for in those depths there will always be a prayer
to their Lord and a sense of surrender to you who cover them with
your mantle of refuge. O most sweet Virgin, O Mother of Christ and
Mother of us all, Mary (Homily, Divine Liturgy in the Armenian
Rite, 21 November 1987). Amen. [02262-02.01] [Original text:
Italian]
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Posted 13 November 2000 - 07:22 AM

Vatican City
Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office
November 10, 2000
VISITA UFFICIALE A PAPA GIOVANNI PAOLO II E ALLA CHIESA DI ROMA DEL
PATRIARCA SUPREMO E CATHOLICOS DI TUTTI GLI ARMENI, KAREKIN II (8-11
NOVEMBRE 2000) - III
OMELIA DI SUA SANTITÀ KAREKIN II

Blessed is God, who has guided our efforts to reach out to sister
churches in this year marking the 2000th anniversary of the birth
of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the first year of our reign as
Catholicos of All Armenians. In embracing our spiritual brethren,
we renew and reinforce the centuries-old ties and cooperation
between us. With a grateful heart we offer prayers of thanksgiving
to the Almighty, as we exchange with the head of the Roman Catholic
Church the love and reverence we share in Christ.

Your Holiness, our heart abounds with joy on this occasion. Our
visit to Rome has been greeted with an unparalleled display of
welcome, crowned by brotherly love. From the hand of Your
Holiness, the worthy and wise successor of the Holy Apostle Peter,
we, the successor of the Holy Apostle Thaddeus and the Apostle-like
St. Gregory the Illuminator, gratefully receive the relic of the
latter, who is considered the Second Enlightener of the Armenian
people and a great saint of the holy universal Church. This event
is indeed a joyous milestone in the life of all Armenians living in
the homeland and throughout the diaspora. Today, the Roman
Catholic Church has presented a priceless treasure to the
Armenians, to acknowledge the 1700th anniversary of the declaration
of Christianity as the national religion of Armenia.

Joining us in this holy cathedral today are a number of our
children, who have come to Rome from twelve countries on five
continents; their presence bears witness to the joy and exultation
of our entire people. Their prayers, along with those of our
clergymen and those of our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters,
intermingle under these hallowed arches to beseech the intercession
of the Holy Enlightener and father of our faith--that great saint
whom you call Gregory the Armenian. These prayers raise an
immaterial edifice, which "grows into a holy temple in the Lord"
(Eph 2:21) through our love and faith in Christ. It is a cathedral
of light, built not by mortal hands--among whose architects is St.
Gregory the Illuminator, the great confessor of Christ, pre-eminent
law-giver of the Armenian nation, and our first catholicos.

Seventeen hundred years ago, St. Gregory emerged from his unjust
imprisonment. He had previously endured unspeakable torture, and
had been subject to thirteen years' confinement in Khor Virab, the
dungeon of the doomed. But by the will of God he was released.
Despite his sufferings he rejected bitterness, and took up the way
of purity by resuming his preaching of the life-giving word of God.
The Light of the Gospel intensified in the land of the Armenians,
resulting in the miraculous conversion of our people. Later,
through St. Gregory's visionary eyes, our nation witnessed the
Risen Savior, clad in light, descending from the unreachable
heavens to smite the soil of our homeland. The power of St.
Gregory's faith transformed the character and meaning of our
national life. Since that time--and unto the ages of ages--that
faith has borne the seal of Christ, and is anchored in Holy
Etchmiadzin, which rose from the earth at the descent of the Only
Begotten. In the fitting words of the historian Arakel Davrijetsi:
"The entire Armenian nation is attached to the Hand of St. Gregory
[i.e. his relic] and Holy Etchmiadzin" (ch. xvii).

St. Gregory, the shepherd who dedicated his life unsparingly to
the Armenian people, has never left his flock. When we were beset
by wolves, or scattered across the world, or taken into captivity
by unholy usurpers; as we stand at the crossroads of history, or
lie in our eternal rest--he has been with us, sharing our
tribulations.

In the name of our people, we express our thanks and appreciation
to His Eminence Michele Giordano, the Cardinal of Naples, and to
the devoted sisters of the Monastery of St. Gregory, who have
reverently protected the relics as well as the instruments that
tortured the great confessor of Christ. For five centuries, these
relics have attracted thousands of pilgrims to the Monastery of St.
Gregory, thus perpetuating the inspirational and mysterious mission
of a saint who dedicated his life to God. Today, our holy
Illuminator returns to his people, to rejoice with them in the
atmosphere of freedom and independence, and to bestow his blessings
on the land of Ararat by means of his illustrious relics.

Like other Christians, our people have had a long history of
zealously venerating the relics of saints--to the surprise and
discouragement of enemies who would force us to deny the truth of
Christianity. Though others have tried to strip us of our faith,
Christianity is not a garment to be worn and tossed away, but is to
our people the very hue and texture of our skin. Attempts to
change such things can only be vain, and Armenians have been
willing to prove this--even at the cost of their own martyrdom.
Likewise with Christ beside us, fortified by the sacraments of the
church and the relics of the saints, we have stood our ground on
the saving road of the Cross, defending the embattled citadel of
Christendom in the East.

Even so, today our people are deprived of many relics and holy
shrines located in the vestiges of historic Armenia, which still
attest to the Christian presence in those lands, and which have
been sanctified by the sweat and blood of the Armenian people.
Most of the Armenians present here are the offspring of the remnant
of our people that survived the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Having
been deported from their historic homeland, after wandering from
place to place, they finally settled in the various countries of
the world and established the present-day Armenian diaspora. The
people in our entourage are descendants of those who sought refuge
from the Genocide; today they are upright and devoted citizens of
their respective countries, and enjoy the respect and trust of
their adoptive and beloved homelands. The fact that Ottoman Turkey
perpetrated the Armenian Genocide is well known to the clergy of
the Western churches, who followed the philanthropic example of
Christ and stretched out their hands to assist our afflicted
people.

Consequently, we harbor a deep sense of gratitude to all those who
rendered support to us in those terrible days. This feeling will
never be extinguished from our hearts; nor will the affection we
feel towards others who came to our aid during the Genocide, and
during the earthquake of Spitak, the tribulations associated with
our transition to independence, and the Karabagh movement. The
Roman Catholic Church, too, has not remained aloof from our
distress in recent times. Indeed, Your Holiness' comforting and
encouraging words spoken on numerous occasions still ring in our
ears. Your Holiness: In pursuing the relationship between our two
churches, we feel your spirit of brotherly love towards the
Armenian Church and people. Several years ago, in yet another
loving gesture, you dispatched to the Armenian Apostolic Church the
relics of the Holy Apostle Bartholomew, co-worker with St.
Thaddeus in the task of evangelizing the Armenian people. Your
visits and those of your predecessor, Pope Paul VI, to the
countries of the Near East and to several Armenian churches have
been a great comfort to our people. We were especially grateful
during your visit to the Holy Land this past spring, when you chose
the hallowed ground of the Sts. James Armenian Cathedral as the
site to offer your prayer to our Savior.

Last year our people prepared with great enthusiasm and affection
to welcome Your Holiness to our homeland of Armenia, where freedom
is now being pursued under the gaze of Mount Ararat. Alas, the
health of the blessed Catholicos Karekin I reached a crisis, and
your visit could not go forward at that time. But our hope to play
host to Your Holiness remains strong, and our people look forward
to celebrating the 1700th Jubilee of the Armenian Apostolic Church
in Your comforting presence.

We thankfully repeat our invitation to you on this momentous
occasion of our meeting and your presentation of the Relics of St.
Gregory the Illuminator to the Armenian Church. And we beseech the
Lord that Your Holiness as well as all the spiritual leaders of the
Christian churches will pray for the intercession of the Holy
Illuminator, so that our holy faith may be renewed in the Armenia
of today as it was in the Armenia of 1700 years ago. We pray that
the holy saints will intercede with our Heavenly Father, so that He
may bless our encounter and guide us in our duties, for the sake of
His glory and for the well-being of our faithful churches. Amen.
[02272-02.01] [Original text: English]
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Posted 17 November 2000 - 03:31 PM

A successful bargain!
_____________________________________________
The Vatican recognized the Armenian genocide

Cyber Thesis Journal
Nov 16, 2000

The Vatican recognized for the first time the Armenian genocide committed by the Ottoman Turks in a formal document, according to the newspaper "La Stampa". In the document a clear reference is made to
the 1915 "ethnic and religious cleansing" that resulted to the extermination of a Christian community and the deaths of 1.5 million people.

According to the newspaper, the recognition of the genocide is included in a joint statement issued immediately after the meeting of Pope John-Paul II with head of the Armenian Church Karekin II last
Friday.

In the joint statement is mentioned that the 20th century was stigmatized by events of extreme violence and the Armenian genocide
was the beginning of the atrocities that followed namely, two World Wars, numerous regional conflicts and organized extermination campaigns that resulted to the deaths of millions of faithful people.

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Posted 14 February 2001 - 05:28 PM

13-Feb-2001 -- Vatican Information Service
HOLY FATHER TO PRESIDE AT LITURGY IN ARMENIAN RITE
VATICAN CITY, FEB 13, 2001 (VIS) - On Sunday, February 18, at 9 a.m. in St.
Peter's Basilica, Pope John Paul II will preside at the divine liturgy in
the Armenian rite on the occasion of the 17th centenary of the baptism of
the Armenian people, according to a communique from the Office of
Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff. It adds that the liturgy
will be celebrated by His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX, patriarch of Cilicia
of the Armenian Catholics.

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Posted 19 February 2001 - 01:03 PM

17-Feb-2001 -- Vatican Information Service

APOSTOLIC LETTER: 1700TH ANNIVERSARY OF ARMENIA'S BAPTISM

VATICAN CITY, FEB 17, 2001 (VIS) - Made public today was the Apostolic
Letter, dated February 2, written by the Pope for the occasion of the
anniversary of the Baptism of the Armenian People.

John Paul II recalled that the conversion of the Armenian people to
Christianity occurred seventeen centuries ago. "It was an event which
profoundly marked your identity; not only your personal identity, but that
of the community as well. For this reason one can speak of the 'Baptism' of
your nation, even if in reality the spreading of Christianity had already
begun some time earlier in your land."

After a brief narration of the events which, according to tradition, were
at the origin of the massive conversion of the Armenian people, the Pope
writes: "The preaching of the Good News and the conversion of Armenia are
above all founded on the blood of witnesses to the faith. ... The component
of martyrdom constitutes an constant element in the history of your people.
... The entire culture and very spirituality of the Armenians are pervaded
by the boldness of the supreme sign of the gift of life in martyrdom. ...
One such emblem is the sacrifice of Vardan Mamikonian and his companions"
who, facing attempts to impose mazdaism (zoroastrianism), "gave their life
to remain faithful to Christ and defend the faith of the nation."

The Pope emphasized that since then similar events have been repeated, "up
through the massacres suffered by the Armenians in the years spanning the
19th and 20th centuries and culminating in the tragic events of 1915, when
the Armenian people suffered unspeakable violence, the painful consequences
of which are still visible in the diaspora into which many of its sons have
been constrained. It is a memory which cannot be lost."

Furthermore, the Holy Father recalled, these bloody events have compelled
the Armenian people "to continual migrations throughout the world." But, he
writes, "the Christian faith, even in the most tragic moments of Armenian
history, has been the propulsive spring which has marked the beginning of
the rebirth of this tried people."

Another element "of great value in your troubled history" is comprised of
the "relation between evangelization and culture." From the term
"'Illuminator,' as St. Gregory the Apostle of Armenia is named" is derived
'Illumination', a term which indicates that "through Baptism, the disciple
... is inundated by the splendor of Christ 'light of the world'." Such a
term also indicates "the spreading of culture through teaching, entrusted
in particular to the monk-teachers, who continue the evangelical preaching
of St. Gregory."

The Pope then points to the "powerful force of faith, which prompts us not
to give in to the temptations of power and of the world, and which enables
us to resist atrocious sufferings as well as the most seductive flattery."
When man distances himself from God, "he loses his own dignity, debasing
himself, and thus becoming a prisoner of his own avidity." An important
truth in all of this emerges, he says: "An absolute sacredness of power
does not exist, and this doesn't mean to say that it is always justified in
everything one does. One must, rather, recognize the personal
responsibility of one's choices: if they are wrong, they remain such, even
if a king makes them."

The Holy Father says he wants to express to the Lord "the gratitude of the
entire Church for having inspired in the Armenian people a faith which is
so firm and courageous and for having always supported them in their
witness to it. ... I want to express my thanks to the Armenian people above
all for their long history of fidelity to Christ, a fidelity which has
known persecution and martyrdom."

"The Armenian people's patrimony of faith and culture has enriched mankind
with treasures of art and talent, which are now spread throughout the
world. ... Ambassadors of peace and industriousness, Armenians have
travelled the world and, ... have offered a precious contribution to
transforming it and making it closer to the Father's project of love."

John Paul II expressed "a special thought to all those who worked so that
Armenia could rise from the sufferings of so many years of a totalitarian
regime."

"I also fervently hope that the faithful will courageously continue their
commitment and their already notable efforts so that the Armenia of
tomorrow will bloom again in the human and Christian values of justice,
solidarity, equality, respect, honesty and hospitality which are at the
basis of human coexistence."

He underscores how "the already cordial relations between the Armenian
Apostolic Church and the Catholic Church have had, in recent decades, a
decisive thrust through meetings between the Pope and the highest
authorities of that Church." In particular he cites the encounter with His
Holiness Karekin II to whom he gave the relics of Gregory the Illuminator
for the new cathedral in Yerevan.

Remarking on tomorrow's liturgy in the Armenian rite in St. Peter's
Basilica, "with Armenians and for Armenians ... to praise God for the gift
of faith they have received," the Pope writes: "It is my great hope that
that sacred thanksgiving will embrace all Armenians, wherever they are."




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