Hands Off the Diaspora!

Keghart.com Board Editorial, 30 June 2011
 
The events unfolding in the Armenian communities of Nice and Switzerland may have far reaching consequences for the Armenian Apostolic Church in particular and Armenia/Diaspora relations in general.
 
The individuals–lay and clergy–who are involved in the ongoing disputes, the choices they have made and may continue to make, will shape the future status of the Church. However, the matter has gone far beyond a simple dialogue and national discourse on how to address the inter-relation between lay people, entrusted with managing the organizational aspect of the institution. and the clergy whose sole raison d’être is to provide spiritual guidance.
 

Keghart.com Board Editorial, 30 June 2011
 
The events unfolding in the Armenian communities of Nice and Switzerland may have far reaching consequences for the Armenian Apostolic Church in particular and Armenia/Diaspora relations in general.
 
The individuals–lay and clergy–who are involved in the ongoing disputes, the choices they have made and may continue to make, will shape the future status of the Church. However, the matter has gone far beyond a simple dialogue and national discourse on how to address the inter-relation between lay people, entrusted with managing the organizational aspect of the institution. and the clergy whose sole raison d’être is to provide spiritual guidance.
 

Nobody is blind to the constant foreign pressures Armenia is subjected to because of its geopolitical significance. Russia and its rivals (USA and the major countries of the European Union) are investing time, manpower and finances to "normalize" relations between Armenia and Turkey, in accordance with their own respective interests. The infamous Protocols were the expression of that ongoing pursuit–to formalize relations and get rid of the "thorn" that Armenia and Armenians pose in the eyes of the movers and shakers of international politics and economy. The US administration has not given up on TARC. Activities of similar nature may have undergone a facelift but continue to be carried  through a variety of venues.
 
In the Diaspora several prominent personalities, organizations, some clerics and lay people, engaged in the activities of various councils overseen by Etchmiadzin-oriented churches, willingly or unwillingly, knowingly or not, in self interest or otherwise, are promoting ideas in line with the general direction of the Protocols. Trying to revive the Protocols, they cite arguments out of context and deploy a misleading chronological sequence of events. This is a futile exercise and an insult to our intelligence.
 
Meanwhile, in Armenia a ruling elite that seeks legitimacy by pleasing foreign interests has lost its trajectory. It has "suspended" the Protocols. Suspension entails the distinct possibility of reviving the Protocols when circumstances are favourable. People who follow Armenian affairs–in Armenia and in the Diaspora–are only too aware of the amicable relations that have developed between the rulers of Armenia and Protocol-promoters in the Diaspora.
 
"You scratch my back and I´ll scratch yours" describes what goes on between the Armenian oligarchs and Etchmiadzin as the latter has become an institution devoid of any "holiness." Examples to support this negative perception abound in Armenia. The citizens of Armenia have condemned the Church leadership and have created a folklore replete with unflattering remarks and anecdotes about the "Supreme Leader" of the Church.
 
It would be naive to think that Etchmiadzin’s recent activities in the Diaspora have been undertaken without the knowledge and blessings of the government of Armenia.
 
The tripartite confluence of interests among the Diaspora Protocol-promoters, the oligarchs of Armenia and Etchmiadzin provide opportunities for the "Supreme Leader" to pursue his Diaspora dreams that are not far from delusions of grandeur. Etchmiadzin´s hectic activities remind us of the story of Shara and the Plains of Shirag with the difference that the "Supreme Leader" has an appetite seemingly exceeding that of Shara. He will exploit whatever pretext to devour what he can in the Diaspora. Entering from the back door, this unscrupulous endeavour in the Diaspora will try to achieve what the president failed to accomplish last year when he tried to drum up support for the discredited Protocols.
 
The scandalous incidents in Nice and Switzerland are not isolated events. They seem to be part-and-parcel of a plan to subjugate Diaspora communities to the will of disgraceful rulers in Yerevan. Is it too far fetched to suppose that Jerusalem might be the next target of this unholy tripartite alliance? Will the Diaspora muster enough courage to tell–in no uncertain terms–to the "Supreme Leader" that his games have nothing to do with the Church as a religious institution and everything to do about power, politics, authoritarian attitudes and personal ambition?

Enough is enough; hands off the Diaspora!

 

8 comments
  1. Minority Biz

    The only supporters of the idea that our Holy Church may take over power is a small group of extreme, driven, misinformed supporters. Most of them are far from our Church. These individuals have a difficulty accepting the regulations of the Holy Church and the laws of the country they are living in.

    Let’s pray that they may find their way back.

    1. To Alain – “Regulations of the Holy Church”

      Dear Alain,

      I wonder whether "Regulations of the Holy Church" are at all relevant to the subject matter.

      Have you ever been to Armenia? Have you noticed the unfriendly comments that the vast majority of people make about the present Catholicos and his "development" projects? Have you heard about how close your burial site to the Etchmiadzin Cathedral could be depending on how much you "donate" to the coffers of the Holy See?

      People are literally hungry and the Catholicos is dancing in megalomania. I wonder where do you classify yourself when you talk about "a small group of extreme, driven, misinformed supporters"?

      Let’s pray that the Catholicos finds his "way back". Don’t hold your breath though.

      Respectfully,

      Grigor

      1. Will never find back

        Have you ever heard of any bilionnaire giving up his riches without a fight to the end? Have you ever seen a dictator relinquishing his throne voluntarily? They end up either being thrown out or they commit suicide.

        The Catholicos will never find his "way back" to the spirit of the Christian teachings. It’s a forgone conclusion. Whether he will be thrown out or commit suicide is doubtful. Long live the elite in Armenia and their followers in the Diaspora! They will keep him on his throne and enrich him to the detriment of the Diaspora.

        1. Broader Church Issue

          I do not have data and statistics to back what I have come to conclude, at gut level, that the Diaspora is not and will not be producing sufficient number of seminarians to meet the spiritual demand and fill in the void in the Armenian Church. More and more Echmiadzin will fill and meet the demand, and naturally will be more and more influential, which is not a bad thing.
           
          Echmiadzin is not only divinely inspired institution but it is also built in a divinely- inspired earthly location. However, much like any institution, men run it. The European Armenian issues that are presented in Keghart and the Keghart’s editorial are manifestations of a broader issue: how to deal with this increasing influence that is centralized in Echmiadzin, upon whose apex sits the Catholicos, whom the Armenian people, clergy and laity, chose.
           
          It will be worthwhile to learn from those who have expertise in the administration of the Church whether Echmiadzin, as a Church, is decentralized enough to give communities the right to administer their churches and whether Echmiadzin abides by such laws.

          The solution of the current and growing phenomenon will be in the administrative decentralization of the Church and in the global exercise of such by-laws and the expectation that the occupant of the St. Gregory’s throne and the administration he oversees abide by the laws.   

  2. Catholicos and the Diaspora

    There is talk, in the Keghart editorial and comments that Catholicos Karekin and the government of Armenia are intruding into Diaspora affairs with the intention of influencing decisions made by Diaspora Armenians. I believe there has been talk that their next target could be the Patriarchate of  Jerusalem. I am wondering if there are examples of similar controversies brewing in other Diaspora communities, in addition to the Nice and Swiss affairs.

    1. Jerusalem seems to be the weekest link

      Jerusalem seems to be the weekest link at present. Since the Israeli-Arab war of 1967 potential clerics from neighbouring Arab countries such as Lebanon, Syria and Jordan have had difficulties replenishing the ranks of the clergy and the St. James Brotherhood.  Thankfully Armenia has filled the gap.

      Anectodally about 40 – 50% of the clergy is composed of people from Armenia. Does it take a rocket scientist to figure out what an opportunity that provides to the Catholicos in Armenia to impose his choice once His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian passes away?

      1. Catholicos and the Diaspora

        What you say about the high percentage of Armenia-born priests in Jerusalem is true. It’s also true that they might be "kingmakers" when a patriarch is elected. However, the final arbiter will be the Israeli government. As in the past (Ottoman Turks, British Mandate, Jordanians), the government that rules Jerusalem has the decisive say in who becomes the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem.

        There’s also a mystery about Catholicos Karekin II’s last visit to Jerusalem. He apparently visited the city to help out with the patriarchal succession plans. However, within 24 hours he was back on his plane to Yerevan. What transpired to force him to abandon his mission so abruptly and after such a short duration is a question mark.

  3. Proposing Reforms Never a Bad Thing

    "Hands off Diaspora" sounds as if outsiders were about to conquer us. We cannot stay far from Echimiadzin and call ourselves part of the Armenian Apostolic Church. As part of the Church there, we have no choice other than to accept the decisions of Echimiadzin and its leaders. The Church is an institution and not a single person. You may leave your sports club if you dislike the club president, but would you leave the U.S. if you disliked Obama’s decisions? I bet you would not. Is it wrong to PROPOSE reforms? No! Without the acceptance of existing structures, your propositions will not be taken seriously. I feel 1968 sentiments in some of the comments.

     

Comments are closed.

You May Also Like
Read More

Հաւաքական Հայց

Պէյրութ, 26 Դեկտեմբեր 2011 Վսեմաշուք Սերժ Սարգսեան Նախագահ Հայաստանի Հանրապետութեան        Երեւան Մեծարգոյ Պրն. Նախագահ,   Ինչպէս գիտէք՝…
Read More