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Historic Bishops Synod Concludes, Set to Meet Again

The four-day synod of bishops at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin concluded on Friday, September 27.  Some 62 Armenian bishops and archbishops from around the word, representing the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and the See of the Great House of Cilicia,came together for the synod, which is the first such meeting in the Armenian Church’s modern history.

His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, presided over the synod and were present throughout its proceedings.
As reported last week, Catholicos Karekin II and Catholicos Aram I delivered formal addresses to the assembled clergymen. Republic of Armenia President Serge Sargsyan attended the opening ceremony and spoke as well. The synod also heard from Archbishop Aram Ateshyan, Patriarchal Vicar of Constantinople.
With Archbishop Khajag Barsamian and Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan serving as co-chairs, the synod discussed a series of pressing issues confronting the worldwide Armenian Church. Among these was the canonization of new Armenian saints—a practice that has fallen into disuse for several centuries. A special “sainthood committee” was assigned to study specific questions arising out of the synod’s intention to canonize the victims of the 1915 Armenian Genocide.
The synod also adopted a uniform text for the church’s baptism and chrismation services, and established a foundation for the support of disadvantaged children in Armenia and Cilicia, and for the aid of Armenians in war-torn Syria.
Representing the Eastern Diocese at the synod were Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian and ecumenical director Archbishop Vicken Aykazian.
Speaking after the synod, Archbishop Barsamian commended the “atmosphere of brotherly love and openness” pervading the sessions, and the resolution of the synod to convene again in a year’s time. He also expressed appreciation for the spiritual guidance of His Holiness Karekin II and His Holiness Aram I.
Close of the Bishops Synod of the Armenian Apostolic Church
Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Information Services 27 September, 2013 
From September 24 through 27, in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, presided over the opening of the Bishop’s Synod of the Armenian Church. Present at the meeting were 62 Archbishops and Bishops from the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and the Great House of Cilicia.
On 24 September, following the Morning services in the Mother Cathedral, the Bishops Synod of the Armenian Church opened in the Gevorkian Seminary Events Center Auditorium.
Mr. Serzh Sargsyan, President of the Republic of Armenia, greeted the Bishops during the opening ceremony of the meeting. His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, delivered their messages to the Synod members.  His Eminence Archbishop Aram Ateshyan, Patriarchal Vicar of Constantinople, also gave opening remarks during the Bishops Synod.
At the conclusion of the opening service, the following chancellery of the Synod was established: His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamyan and His Eminence Archbishop Oshakan Choloyan were appointed to serve as co-chairman; and His Eminence Archbishop Narek Alemezyan and His Eminence Archbishop Arshak Kachatryan were appointed to serve as secretaries. Following the assignment of administrative duties, the Synod agenda items were approved.
On September 24, the Synod discussed the re-establishment of the tradition of canonization in the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church, and specifically focused on the issue of canonization of the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Co-Chairmen of the Sainthood Committee, His Eminence Archbishop Sepuh Sargsyan, and His Eminence Archbishop Yeznik Petrosyan, presented reports on the results of the works and study concerning this issue.
Following lengthy discussion by the Synod on the reports concerning the canonization of the Armenian Genocide victims, the Synod made the following decisions:
The collective canonization of the victims of the Armenian Genocide was adopted in principle, and the Sainthood Committee was assigned the task of continuing to study the individual and collective canonization of the victims, for presentation and approval at the next meeting. The Sainthood Committee was also assigned the task of reviewing the canon and ritual of canonization, for presentation and approval at the next meeting.
On September 25 and 26, the Synod members discussed the works of the Liturgical Committee on the sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church. The reports were presented by Co-Chairman His Eminence Archbishop Arshak Kachatryan; and committee members His Grace Bishop Mikael Ajapahyan and His Grace Bishop Vahan Hovhannisyan. At the conclusion of intensive discussions, the Synod accepted the uniform text for the Services of Baptism and Chrismation.
In the next session, the report on canonical issues the sacrament of the Holy Baptism and the moral-instructive guidelines of Holy Baptism were the topic of discussion. The Liturgical Committee was assigned to further continue their work on those issues. Also discussed was the language of Armenian Church services and other issues, and it was noted that additional study was required.
The sessions of September 27 were devoted to the modern challenges facing the Armenian Church. His Eminence Archbishop Oshakan Choloyan and His Grace Bishop Bagrat Galstanyan presented reports on the matter. Discussing the challenges on the liturgical, and religious instruction life of the Church and its educational and social mission, as well as the problems of the preservation of the Armenian identity, the Synod members noted those to be of predominant priority and decided to include them in the agenda of the upcoming Synod meetings.
Reviewing the results of the Bishops Synod, they also expressed concern for the social, economic, national, and regional and various other challenges and problems present in the church and civil life of our nation. As a solution to those challenges and problems, as their service to the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Bishops decided to establish a foundation for supporting the disadvantaged children of Armenia, Cilicia and Armenians in Syria, with the blessings of the Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, and Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I.
Initially two million USD was provided for launching the foundation and a special committee was created for organizing the mission of the foundation.
At the conclusion of the Synod, the Bishops happily reflected on the productive outcome of the meeting and also expressed their appreciation to His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, for the opportunity of uniting under the roof of the Mother See in brotherly love. The Synod members remarked on the importance of regularly convening the Bishops Synod for addressing the various challenges that the Armenian Apostolic Church presently face, and the problems concerning the Armenian people. This will also help in adjusting the viewpoints and approaches of the Armenian Church on those matters.
The next Bishops Synod is scheduled to be convened in autumn of 2014. The Catholicos of All Armenians and the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia closed the Synod with their blessings, offering appreciation and prayers.

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