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Communique from the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem

P.O.Box 14235, Jerusalem, Israel 91141
Office of Ecumenical and Foreign Relations
Contact person: Bishop Aris Shirvanian
Tel: 972-2-628-2331
Fax: 972-2-626-4861
E-mail: arminf@netvision.net.il
Website: www.armenian-patriarchate.org


The Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem has heard with great concern
about the false allegations published by the media in Greece regarding
the Holy Fire ceremony, which takes place each year on the Saturday
before Easter in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, according to which:
"the Armenians are demanding that they light the Holy Fire, and it
must be noted that the issue has reached all the way to the Israeli
Knesset.  As it is known, this request of the Armenians is persistent,
and many times, during the entrance and exit of the Greek patriarch,
there have occurred serious incidents."

The position of the Armenian Patriarchate has always been to uphold
the peaceful and centuries-old traditional ceremony of the Holy Fire,
in compliance with the Agreement on the Status Quo in the Holy Places,
according to which: "The Bishop of the Armenian Church, who is to
accompany the [Greek] Patriarch into the Sepulchre, here joins His
Beatitude.  The Patriarch now disrobes, and his mitre and vestments
are carried by the attendant clergy to the Altar in the Orthodox
Chapel.  The door [of the Edicule] is then opened and the Patriarch
enters the Tomb, accompanied by the Armenian Bishop."

Unfortunately, since his accession to the throne in 2001, the Greek
Orthodox Patriarch Ireneios I has maintained that the Greeks hold the
exclusive right to light the Holy Fire from the Holy Tomb,
subsequently passing it to the Armenians.  Contrary to this assertion,
firmans, hujjats, and other historical and legal documents all state
that the Armenian Bishop and the Greek Patriarch should together light
the Holy Fire from the Tomb of our Lord.

The Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem has and will continue to reject
the attempts of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch in Jerusalem to deny the
right of equal participation by the Armenian Patriarch in the lighting
of the Holy Fire.


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