More Proof, Please, or Shut Up

Avedis Kevorkian, Philadelphia, PA  USA, 11 August 2013

When I first met Karekin II, he was a Bishop, and I met a good man and who was highly respected.

When I next met Karekin II, he was an Archbishop, and I met a good man and who was highly respected.

When I next met Karekin II, he was Catholicos, and I met a good man and who was highly respected.

So, I am wondering where this ogre posing as Karekin II has come from.

Avedis Kevorkian, Philadelphia, PA  USA, 11 August 2013

When I first met Karekin II, he was a Bishop, and I met a good man and who was highly respected.

When I next met Karekin II, he was an Archbishop, and I met a good man and who was highly respected.

When I next met Karekin II, he was Catholicos, and I met a good man and who was highly respected.

So, I am wondering where this ogre posing as Karekin II has come from.

How is it that when he was a seminarian, no one found anything negative and untoward?

How is it that when he was a priest, no one found anything negative and untoward?

How is it that when he was a Bishop, no one found anything negative and untoward?

How is it that when he was an Archbishop, no one found anything negative and untoward?

How is it that when he was a candidate to succeed Vasken, no one found anything negative and untoward?

How is it that when he was a candidate to succeed Karekin I, no one found anything negative and untoward?

How is it that when he was elected to succeed Karekin I, no one found anything negative and untoward?

So, we are now meant to believe that between Pontifical visits to Armenian communities throughout the world, and between his official visits throughout the world, and between receiving foreign dignitaries making the obligatory visit to Etchmiadzin, and between his administrative duties, and between his being visible as few others are, he has found time to be corrupt and venal.

My first reaction to the long editorial was “Holy Hell!  He must have rubbed a few people the wrong way!”  My second reaction was to ask: “Cui bono?” by these attacks and the apparently hoped-for resignation of Karekin II.

My third reaction was my own response to that question: “Don’t let your mind travel down that path.” 

I know absolutely nothing about the workings of Etchmiadzin.  So, I can only surmise, since most of the accusations and so-called “charges” seem to be anonymous and uncredited, that neither do his accusers.

Nor, am I even going to attempt commenting on the 23 accusations and charges.

But, picking at random, that he has unfrocked more than the apparent quota permitted by his critics.  Perhaps they were not up to the standard expected of the Church, and had been able to get away with their punishable actions.  We should not forget that Vasken had to walk a very narrow line between serving the Church and the more-than-likely demands of the Communists–and, let us not forget, the nasty lies spread by Giligia about him and Etchmiadzin.  Perhaps he didn’t have time to check on the morality of his clergy who, therefore, assumed a certain impunity.  And, let us not forget that his successor Karekin I was in poor health and may not have had the opportunity to check into the morality and activities of the clergy.  But, it is possible that Karekin II has found the time to do the checking and has found things that needed decisive action. 

Yet, among the “charges” against Karekin is that the church (still) has corrupt priests and homosexual priests.  Obviously, that means that he should get rid of them.  But, if he does, he will be charged with defrocking priests.  Are his critics trying to walk on both sides of the street at the same time?  Or, are they just plain stupid?

And, by the way.  What is wrong with being homosexual, today?  Or, is the “accusation” that they are pedophiles?  If so, say so.

He is also accused of having passionate and, obviously, over-zealous, supporters during the election of Catholicos.  Is it a crime to have supporters?  Didn’t any of the other candidates have supporters?  I asked one of the lay delegates for whom he was going to vote, and he refused to tell me, adding that he had been under some pressure from some people to vote for their candidate.  Apparently, having won, Karekin is therefor guilty for winning.

Karekin II would be a fool to even respond to these accusations, so we may never know.

At one time, the Patriarchate in Jerusalem had a bad reputation, that treasures went missing, that a certain high clergy (no further identification, please) used to spend an inordinate time playing poker with some rich Arabs.  But, enough, on that, if you please.

So, when Torkom was elevated to Patriarch he had his hands full.  When he eliminated himself from consideration as successor to Vasken, I asked why, and he responded, “I still have much to do in Jerusalem,” meaning (to me, at least) that “the mess was bigger than I thought and I don’t want to leave the cleaning-up unfinished and for my successor to finish.”

My father censored an editorial of mine in which I attacked a corrupt priest (“When you spit up, you hit a mustache and when you spit down you hit a beard”–meaning any attack on anyone in the Church was an attack on the entire Church “and not in my newspaper”).  It was the only time he did so, by the way.  Many years later, the paper long dead, he said to me, out of the blue, that his censoring the editorial was a mistake.  I was surprised that it had lingered in his mind for all those years, and I said nothing.  I learned later that (he had read that) the priest was getting even worse.  So, it is possible that for too long were clergy permitted to violate the trust their collar demands–and, alas, gets.

My late brother had seven children.  All were baptized in the Armenian Church (though his wife was not Armenian).  The first 13 of his grandchildren were baptized in the Armenian Church.  The 14th was born with a serious heart defect and spent her 91 days in the hospital.  When she died, my brother wanted her buried from the Armenian Church.  The Archbishop refused to permit it because the child was not baptized.  My brother argued that she had been in the hospital receiving intense medical care and that baptism was the last thing on his mind.  To no avail.  Her funeral service was through another church.  When the second 14th grandchild arrive, he was not baptized in the Armenian Church. 

When my brother died, Catholicos Karekin II sent his widow a very moving letter about the great loss to the Armenians of my brother’s death.  However, he did not send it to her.  He sent the letter to the Archbishop, with the instructions that he go to the widow, read the letter in Armenian, translate it into French, and express the Church’s condolences, etc.  Of course, Karekin had been told about the earlier disgraceful act of the narrow-minded Archbishop.  I was present when the Archbishop came to the widow, and I have never seen a more uncomfortable man–and, dare I say?, contrite man.  I even felt sorry for the man.

Was that the act of a Catholicos who doesn’t give a damn about the Church, and the act of a man who thinks of nothing but his own self-interest?

I will make no attempt to answer the question, “Cui bono?” but I hope that I will be excused if I say I think I know.

And he is someone who has boasted that he has never been in an Etchmiadzin Church in his life.

Before you out there start throwing stones, permit me to say that the above is not saying that Karekin II is perfect (I seem to recall that the last person who was perfect was last seen hanging on a cross), that he has not set a foot wrong, that he may not have made some mistakes, that he may have taken some short cuts, that he may not have violated canon law, that he may have become too friendly with some rich “benefactors,”  but no jury of intelligent people–that leaves out, alas, Armenians–would find Karekin II, or anyone else, guilty of the 23 “charges” in the editorial.  

 

12 comments
  1. Avedis Rebuttal

    Avedis,

    As a reader of Keghart.com almost from its inception, I have come to know you, not personally, but as a passionate Armenian. I have also found you dogmatic in some matters, but that is fine with me. It is much better to befriend a person who is passionate, or even dogmatic, and engage whole-heartedly with him than with a person who is indifferent. You're surely not the  latter.

    While the premature death of your infant nephew was painful to his parents and agonizing for the family at large, the archbishop was in no position to authorize the rituals of the Armenian Apostolic rites when the person was not baptized by the holy "muron". However unfortunate in your nephew’s case, the archbishop needed to have the permission of the catholicos or a high-ranking canonical body to give that dispensation. I will leave that incident out because of its implication on deep-seated canon laws and because it does not say much about Catholicos Karekian II, although, in effect, it ties the catholicos in a very sentimental and humane way to that very unfortunate and painful incident.

    No one in his right mind would think that an impartial jury would find Catholicos Karekin II guilty of the charges leveled against him. The measure of his guilt is in his breaking of the Armenian Apostolic priestly vows he voluntarily took to uphold. Most of the accusations raised do not come near to it, yet again are discomforting to say the least. Trial by a jury is not an issue here.

    People, in their bewilderment of what is being perceived to be happening at the highest level of moral authority in our nation, join you in stating that they are not saying that the catholicos “has not set a foot wrong, that he may not have made some mistakes, that he may have taken some short cuts, that he may not have violated canon law, that he may have become too friendly with some rich 'benefactors' and that it is fair for the flock to see their spiritual shepherd put an honest attempt to clear the air."

    The only difference I see between your rebuttal and Keghart.com’s editorial is what your father once stood for and then recanted for having censored his son’s article from his own paper. You think that the accusers are “spitting” at the Church while narrowly targeting the catholicos’ beard and in their hearts wanting to avoid spitting.

  2. Without Repeating

    Without repeating or further expounding on my comments in "More Proof, Please, or Shut Up", I must comment on the matter of the archbishop not permitting a 91-day-old child's funeral without her having been baptized.  

    It has always been my understanding and, in this case, confirmed by another archbishop, that the Armenian Church MUST bury any Armenian, whether or not he has been baptized. He put it beautifully (and I can't recall the exact words),when he said that "before you are a priest, mahrt ess."

    Without extending this response any further, let me say that had the archbishop permitted the funeral, the sun would still have risen the next morning and, if nothing, else, he would not have been put in the very embarrassing position of having to deliver the message from the catholicos who, in my mind, realized that the child should been buried with the blessings of the Armenian Church. If that adds to the "charges" against the catholicos, so be it.

    Avedis Kevorkian
    Philadelphia

  3. Anecdotal Testimony

    Avedis,

    You say that you knew Karekin II when he was a bishop, when he was archbishop and when he became catholicos. And he was always good, according to you. But you also know that one person's and anecdotal testimony isn't worth the paper it is written on.

    You consider the accusations leveled against Karekin as not valid, unless a ecclesiastical jury weighs in and passes judgment. The fact is there's no such body which has any legitimacy. The various supreme councils of the Armenian Apostolic Church are in the grip of the catholicos. In the absence of an impartial court or jury, the accusations against the catholicos will continue.

    Re the airing of so-called gossip, rumor, unsubstantiated news…President John Kennedy's Camelot was a regular "honey pot" as actresses, prostitutes, and a variety of presidential "girlfriends" shared the company of the young president.

    President Kennedy also had a debilitating spinal condition for which he took a variety of pain-killing drugs that had a negative impact on his brain functions.

    The above were well known to the higher-ups in Washington and to the media. But it was the '60s and airing these facts was taboo.
    Thus a president whose mind wasn't clear and who was busy hosting women of dubious character tackled various crises, including the Cuban Crisis which threatened to become WWIII.

    Luckily, those days are gone. There's more openness now. Besides, in the absence of ecclesiastical action, "gossip" and "rumor" will flourish and find alternate venues.

    You also said that there's nothing wrong with homosexuality. The issue is not necessarily the homosexuality of some priests: It's the sexual aspect. Just as it's wrong for a celibate priest to have sexual/romantic relations with a woman, so it's wrong for a celibate priest to have sexual/romantic relations with a man or a boy.

  4. Divided Switzerland Church

    What he [the catholicos] did in Switzerland is shameful. He banished a perfectly fine priest who was loved by the community. The Armenian community in Switzerland is divided now, thanks to the petty politics instigated by the catholicos. I used to attend that church because I had a lot to learn from the wise man in charge of the parish. I contributed to the activities organized by the church, financially and as a volunteer. Now I receive letters from the church, asking for contribution. Why? For the Bentley of the corrupt priest in Armenia? No way! I'll send my hard-earned money to my poor extended family in Armenia who tell horror stories about the catholicos and his "koghagan sherchabad". Who is supposed to shut up now? 

  5. You are the Best

    Avedis, you are the best candidate to become his godfather when he chooses to marry legally. 

  6. Read the Proof, Please

    Avedis,

    I took the time to read your “More Proof, Please, or Shut Up” article, and have to ask you one question: Have you read the proof that I presented on my site, thetruthmustbetold?

    Most of the 23 allegations you refer to were addressed on my site and the majority of them were not made anonymously, as you imply, but by people who can offer further clarification to their claims, if need be.

    If you put aside your emotions and the ties you claim to have with H.H. Karekin II and make him unknown to you, I would invite you to read the Nov. 3, 2000 letter from Mesrop Patriarch and the August 3, 2013 letter from Nurhan Patriarch. Both these letters have been presented on my site and clearly illustrate the serious problems our Church has been facing since the election fraud [of Karekin II] on Oct. 27, 1999.

    You say that it would be wise that Karekin II does not answer the allegations. This, of course, is very good advice on your part as we know he can’t have an explanation for any of them, as we have recently heard in an interview with his appointed clergy in Nice, Der Vache (this exclusive interview can also be found on my site), who like you, speaks without facts or makes statements that only cloud the true issues that concern us.

    Now for a reality check: Karekin II has not only committed at least 90% of the 23 allegations (possibly 100%, but I have proof of about 90% and thus can only make that claim), but a great deal more than that. I hope he will not let things escalate further so that we would have to share them with the world. It’s also a fact that if any of the allegations I have made until were not true, even one, I would have been served with a lawsuit. This has not happened; nor do I expect that it would. Of course, if it does happen, I will welcome it since even I want to be proven wrong in this case.

    Once again, I call out on Karekin II to come forward and answer every allegation we have presented and challenge him to prove me wrong. For the sake of our Church and people, I hope he can and will do this much.

    1. One more question to Avedis

      I'm only a bit confused by your editorial as last year you wrote, "A Confession…" in which you are all in favor of eradicating the problems that plague the Armenian people today. So my question is why are you coming to the defense of H.H. Karekin II? He is as bad, if not worse than the corrupt officials, judges and others that you claim to fight against.

    2. Reply to Avedis Kevorkian

      Mr. Kevorkian,

      Re "More proof, please, or shut up"… After reading your first, second, and third comment, the one thing that stuck in my ignorant mind was "the nasty lies by Giligia about him and Echmiadzin!"

      Don't hit and run, don't flee in cowardice; stay your ground, stand tall. Are you looking for cheap "likes" through diversions in your response? Again and again, you try to strengthen separate Armenian camps. I don't know who you are: I have nothing against you. I'm just an independent reader, but I won't tolerate cheap and venemous remarks which are divisive to our Armenian ranks.

      Separatist, venomous remarks from all prejudiced souls ought to be brought to account. Gone are the days when leaders were ranked on how fiercely they attacked/responded/dissected the opinions of the "others" in our circles. Rank yourself through your achievements rather than by pinpointing the "failures" of "others". Enough of cheap votes from one side or the other.

       

  7. Karekin II

    I am not much a follower of the clerics' life. I have heard many stories on many clerics. Most of them are morally bad. According to an old saying, "You have to be bad to become a member of the clergy or you become bad after you join the clergy."

  8. Power and Corruption

    As we should all know, power goes hand-in-hand with corruption. This fact knows no ethnic or religious boundary.

    Over the years, I have worked with many decent and honest people. But as soon as they were promoted, they changed: higher the ladder they climbed, the worse became their attitude.

  9. “E” of Echmiadzin

    Sam,

    It's understandable that you, like many Armenians, would think the "E" stands for Echmiadzin. It has nothing to do with Echmiadzin or power.

    The "E" stands for "Eyoutyoun" (Being). It means the being responsible for being: God.

  10. More Proof

    How fortunate for all of you out there that you have nothing better to do with your lives than to jump all over me.  I, however, have other things to do, so this will be my last word.

    To Ara: I am not "defending" Karekin II.  I merely want more proof.

    To: Daniel Sagherian:  Concerning my comment about the "lies from Giligia." When I was living in London, I had the opportunity to meet a number of high-ranking people in the British government. During a conversation with someone in the British foreign office, we chatted about many things–it is amazing what one learns when talking "off the record". He mentioned that during Vazken I's period as catholicos–during the Soviet period of Armenia–people connected with Giligia [he said "the Church in Beirut"] were constantly informing the British government that Vazken I was a Soviet spy and that the Armenian Church was a communist organization ["or words to that effect"]. The British government asked the then-Archbishop of Canterbury for his comments and opinion. The archbishop denied everything, and told the official about the background of the Armenian Church and why there was a separation, and said that the wisest thing the British government could do was to ignore such falsehoods.

    Ignoring the lies became the British government's official policy and reaction. To say the least, I was ashamed to hear such things–but was not surprised. He reminded me that we were "off the record," and I never reported the conversation. Sufficient time has passed, and I think I can "report" it now.

    In the words of the 20th-century's greatest philosopher, Pogo, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

    Avedis Kevorkian
    Philadelphia PA

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