Armenian Patriarch visits Sydney

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Catholicos Karekin II, at right, speaks with Bishop Richard Umbers. Also present was Archbishop Haigazoun Najarian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Australia and New Zealand. PHOTO: Marilyn Rodrigues

The supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church Karekin II visited St Mary’s Cathedral on 4 February as part of a 10-day visit of Sydney and Melbourne.

The spiritual leader, known as the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of nearly 9 million Armenian faithful worldwide, toured the cathedral and the kachkar monument, which was given last December by the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox community in thanks for a 2015 Mass commemorating the centenary of the Armenian genocide.

See related story: Armenian monument unveiled at cathedral

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP unveiled the Armenian monument last December. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

The Catholicos said he was grateful for a warm relationship with the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian churches in Sydney.

“We put great importance on this solidarity because the Church as a whole works against many difficulties which are challenging us all over the world, but through our combined efforts all churches and denominations can overcome them,” he said.

Top of the list of challenges are “our brothers and sisters in the Middle East who are being persecuted and even martyred for their faith,” he said, along with a decline of Christian values and morality and spreading secularism.

Bishop Umbers
Bishop Richard Umbers holds an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a gift from the Catholicos to St Mary’s Cathedral. PHOTO: Marilyn Rodrigues

In Turkey and Istanbul there are active communities and churches, but the faithful live in constant tension with the authorities, the Catholicos said, while the Turkish government still denies its attempt to carry out a genocide in 1915.

“While some restrictions have been removed on Christians and other minorities, the situation is still very tense,” he said, while extreme Islamist groups are very active in Turkey.

During his visit His Holiness will open a new diocesan centre of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Australia and New Zealand in Chatswood.