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Religious Hierarchy


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#1 vava

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Posted 21 October 2003 - 06:06 PM

Forgive my ignorance, but maybe one of you folks would care to enlighten me...

I know that religious types are very orderly people and like their hierarchy - but every denomination seems to have a different set of names for the ranks. The Catholics have Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Chaplains etc... then there are Deacons - who I believe CAN marry whereas the others can't.. and of course your garden variety Preists.

Does anyone know the clericial rankings in the Armenian church? What are the catholic & protestant equivalents (if any)?

With all these ranks and territories/responsibilties, it seems to me that those acheieving the highest appointments in the priesthood must have been (and still are I suppose) excellent politicians... :P

#2 gamavor

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Posted 21 October 2003 - 11:25 PM

By Hratch Tchilingirian

The functional structure of the Armenian Church is primarily based on the canons and established traditions of the Armenian Church which were formulated over the centuries. One of the most important aspects of the Armenian Church administration is its Conciliar System; i.e., the administrative, as well as doctrinal, liturgical, and canonical norms are set and approved by a council--collective and participatory decision making process. The Council of Bishops (or the Synod) is the highest religious authority in the Church.

The "norms" of the administrative structure of the church go back to the Apostolic times. A point could be made by the fact that there was a quasi-organizational structure in Christ's group of twelve apostles. Perhaps not as clearly defined, but nevertheless, it was an organizational subsystem that was endowed with a specific task and purpose. While the Scriptures do not record the organizational aspect of the "apostolic college," their activities and interaction underline the existence of certain "norms." For example, the group of the twelve had a treasurer (Judas Iscariot) and a "natural" division of labor based on the talents or the personality of each apostles. Matthew was a tax collector (a "government employee") and had certain familiarity with management practices of the time. In fact, Matthew was "sitting in his office," when Christ met him and asked him to "follow" him (Matthew 9:9). Then we read that "Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave them authority..." (Matthew 10:1) to carry out their mission. We also find certain "rules" for carrying out Jesus's instructions: "The twelve men were sent out...with instructions," (Matthew 10:5ff). One could even see traces of "bureaucracy" (as defined by Max Weber) as early as Christ's time - i.e., a) recruitment and hierarchy, B) division of labor, c) set of rules.

After Jesus had "left" the twelve, the mission had to continue by the apostles. The first thing that the apostles did was to elect a replacement for Judas. "...A few days later there was a meeting of the believers...so they proposed two men_then they drew lots to choose between the two men, and the one chosen was Matthias, who was added to the group of eleven apostles (Acts 1;15ff). Interestingly, this "democratic" election and the proposal process, is indicative of yet anther bureaucratic norm, namely "promotion based on merit and qualification." Eventually, as the church progressed from being a persecuted entity of believers to an institutionalized organization, the rules and admonitions of "the apostles and the elders" (Acts 15:6) were integrated in the canon books of Christian churches, including the Armenian Church. A significant aspect in Acts 15 is the "conciliarity" of the decision making process.

The Hierarchical Structure of the Armenian Church
Clerical Hierarchy:
Catholicos
Bishop
Priest
Lay Representation:
National Ecclesiastical Assembly
Diocesan Assembly
Parish Assembly



The Catholicos

First on the hierarchical ladder is the Catholicos, as the Chief Bishop and Supreme head of the Armenian Church. The Catholicos is elected by a National Ecclesiastical Assembly (NEA), consisting of lay and clergy representatives of the Armenian Churches from around the world. Working closely with the Catholicos is the Supreme Ecclesiastical Council, (the administrative arm of the NEA) which carries out the overall administration of the Armenian Church throughout the world.

The Bishop

Second on the hierarchical ladder is the bishop, who is "elected" by the people and consecrated by the Catholicos with the aid of two other bishops (according to current practice, the Catholiocs has exclusive right to consacrate bishops). A bishop in a given diocese is the "chief executive officer" of the region, who works in cooperation with a Diocesan Council (consisting of clergy and lay members), who in turn are elected by the Diocesan Assembly of the region. The Bishop is the ex-officio president of each and every Diocesan organization.

The Priest

Third on the hierarchical ladder is the priest, who is appointed by the Bishop and accepted by the Parish Assembly of a given parish. The parish priest is the ex-officio president of each and every Parish organization. (In the case of "monastic priests," as it is the case in Etchmiadzin, Antelias, Jerusalem and Constaninople, they are under the jurisdiction of the Catholicos or the Patriarch of the given See).

The National Ecclesiastical Assembly

The National Ecclesiastical Assembly (NEA) consists of lay and clergy delegates elected by the diocesan Assemblies of the dioceses of the Armenian Church around the world. Every bishop in the Armenian Church is automatically a member of the Assembly. The Catholicos-or in his absence the Locum Tenens-is ex-officio president of the NEA. The primary function of the NEA is to elect a successor to a deceased Catholicos. The last NEA was convened in April 1995, when it elected His Holiness Karekin I as Catholicos of All Armenians in Etchmiadzin.

The Diocesan Assembly

The Diocesan Assembly consists of lay delegates elected by the Parish Assemblies. Every diocesan clergy is automatically a member of the Assembly. The Diocesan Primate is ex-officio president of the Diocesan Assembly.

The Parish Assembly

The Parish Assembly consists of all baptized and/or dues paying members of a given parish in a given diocese. The Pastor is the ex-officio president of the Parish Assembly.

On each level on the hierarchical structure of the Armenian Church, clergy and lay cooperation is central to the overall administration and ministry of the church. While the Church is governed according to the standards set forth in the Canons, there are complementary By-Laws in most dioceses that further define the role and relationship of each functionary in the church within a given region.

There are four hierarchical Sees in the Armenian Church:

The Catholicosate of All Armenians in Etchmiadzin (established by St. Gregory the Illuminator in the fourth century).

The Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia (established in Antelias, Lebanon in 1930. Its roots go back to the 13th century).

The Patriarchate of Jersualem (the St. James Brotherhood established the Patriarchate at the beginning of the 14th century).

The Patriarchate of Constantinople (established in 1461 by Sultan Mehmet II).

.
.
. Each See has its own brotherhood, ecclesiastical jurisdiction and internal administrative by-laws. They are not separate churches, but are part of the One, Holy, Apostolic Church--the Armenian Church--and are one in dogma, theology, liturgy and in their service to the Armenian nation.


http://www.hyeetch.n...history_p4.html

#3 MJ

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Posted 21 October 2003 - 11:28 PM

The hierarchy of the Armenian Church is as follows (correct me if I missed something):

Sarkavag, Qahana, Vardabed, Episkopos, Arqepiskopos, Katoghikos.

Sarkavag and Qahana can marry. The rest of them, as it stands currently, cannot marry. However, this rulling is something symptomatic of the last 40-50 years only. The well known Katholikos, Khrimyan Hairik, for example, was married. Katoghikos Gevork (who was murdered by the order of Stalin), has consecrated several married men into the ranks of Bishop. Basically, this inconsistent with the history of the inconsistent history of the Armenian Church practice has been applied since the rain of Katholikos Vazgen I. Furthermore, prior to mid 11th century, celibacy has not been practiced in the Armenian Church, whatsoever.

Furthermore, traditionally, the highest and the most important rank in the Armenian Church has been Qahana, all the “higher” titles constituting either an honorary title (such as Kathoghikos) or “academic” titles (such as Vardabed.)

In general, the structure of the Armenian Church is that of enormous controversies and violations of the charter of the Armenian Church itself.

#4 hagopn

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 10:50 PM

...However, this rulling is something symptomatic of the last 40-50 years only. The well known Katholikos, Khrimyan Hairik, for example, was married. Katoghikos Gevork (who was murdered by the order of Stalin), has consecrated several married men into the ranks of Bishop.

Actually, the celibacy rule was instituted in the 5th century a.d. after the last of the "Grigorian" Katoghikos, Sahak Bartev himself, held the "throne." The fact that hardly anyone followed eversince is symptomatic of the futility of having celibate priests in urban centers mingling with the general population. As I understand it, celibacy was perfectly legitimate a practice for ascetic and monastic orders.

In any case, I would like to correct the above comment to state that Khrimian was NOT married when he was ordained priest. The reality is that he had lost his family at a young age and was in fact a windower.

#5 MJ

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Posted 27 November 2003 - 12:29 AM

Due to shortage of time, I will address the issue only briefly – I have an early morning flight. Upon my return, as my time allows, I might add few more facts.

It is true that Sahak Bartev has made pronunciations (being the first one in the Armenian Church history to do so) on the subject of celibacy. However, as a matter of practice, celibacy has been enforced at much later stage in Armenian Church (I will try to verify my sources at my convenience.) One has to remember that at the times of Sahak Bartev, the Catholicos has had no executive power and has been considered simply as an honorable title – something that is supposed to be made clear even in our days. That is what the Charter of the Armenian Church says.

To understand correctly the issues surrounding the marriage of Catholicaos Khrimian Hairik, among others, one has to read, first, the New Testiment:

“It behoveth, therefore, a bishop to be blameless, married once only, sober, prudent, of good behaviour, chaste, given to hospitality, a teacher, not given to wine, no striker, but gentle, pacific, disinterested, but one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all chastity — for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he govern the Church of God? — not a neophyte, lest, being puffed up with pride, he fall into judgment of the devil. Moreover, he must have a good testimony of them who are without, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:3-7)

The issue here is not the fact that higher-ranking priest could not have married. The issue is that he could not have married more than once and could not have married after receiving their rank. But if they were arriving to the rank while already being married, it was accepted at t he will of the decision maker. Even to this day, there are Vardabeds of Armenian Church who are married with the special permission of Catholicos. I personally know one of them, at least.
As I said, I may revisit the issue when I can allocate time for checking my sources.

#6 vava

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Posted 27 November 2003 - 12:02 PM

Very good! I had forgotten I had posted the question - thanks for your responses... certainly has clarified a few things for me :)

#7 Arpa

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 09:10 AM

I could not find a thorough biography of Fr. Makosudian.

http://www.oia.net/n...s_02_56_42.html

He may be a modern day living breathing Khrimian Hayrik of sorts.
Fr. Maksoudian was married with child(ren) when he was widowed at a very young age and proceeded to be ordained at a celibate priest. This is not unique to the Armenian Chursch. Catholics have the option as well. I am not sure if "widowdness" is a mandatory as opposed to other causes of being unmarried, i.e dissolved marriage.

#8 MJ

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Posted 07 December 2003 - 11:29 AM

As I had promised:


"The organizational structure of the Armenian Church since 1915 has evaporated into thin air, with only a semblance of traditional church remaining," says Revd. Dr. Nerses (Vrej) Nersessian, the priest of one of the London based Armenian Churches and a curator at the British Library.

He goes further to say, " In the tenth century, Khosrov, who became bishop of the province of Anjewatseats, was the father of the famous mystic poet Grigor Narekatci and his two brothers Sahak and Yovhannes. Khachatour Shnorhali, elected to the bishopric of Kars, was a married priest. In the colophons of Armenian manuscripts we have firsthand evidence that, up to the end of the 16th century, priests had the opportunity to rise through the ranks of the orders by merit.

1. Konstandin Catholicos Vahakatsi (1430-1439) has a manuscript of the Four Gospels (Jerusalem no. 251), in which he has a memorial, stating, "remember in your holly prayers Ter Konstandin and my parents Vasil and Tirouhi and my lawful wife Marioun and son Akob, who at the age of ten departed unto Christ, bringing sorrow and sadness for I have no one else to comfort me in this world, except Christ, who is the sole comforter of the souls and bodies of the living and the dead.

2. Abraham Patriarch of Jerusalem (1445-1454). In a manuscript (Jerusalem no. 1863) written from him, he says, 'Oh dear fathers, when reading [this book], remember in your prayers the great Khatoun, the last owner of this, the eretskin of Abraham erets [i.e. married priest].' Further on, the colophon continues, 'I am Ter Abraham, a bishop who received this book as memorial to me and my parents and all blood relations, and the great Khatoun, who paid for its copying."

3. Another manuscript (Jerusalem no. 256) belonging to Bishop Vasil has a colophon, which records 'and this was copied on the orders of bishop Vasil, who received it through his honest earnings as memorial for himself and his wife Taniay and sons Khachatur and Step'anos [and daughter] Hripsime.'

I have already spoken about Khrimian Hairik and Catholicos Gevorg VI.

Further, Revd. Nersessian says, " Marriage, like ordination, is one of the seven holly sacraments. The New Testament and the Church Fathers make it abundantly clear that, while the state of celibacy is advisable for certain types among the clergy in certain circumstances, the state of marriage is, in no way, impure or inferior or discreditable. ...."

Edited by MJ, 07 December 2003 - 12:50 PM.


#9 hagopn

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 02:05 AM

MJ, thank you very much!




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