VATICAN (Armenian Church of Cilicia)—Catholicos Aram I of the Armenian Orthodox Church of Cilicia met on Friday Pope Francis in the Vatican, the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia press service said.
After sharing greetings, Aram I expressed his great appreciation for the Pope’s two pronouncements on the Armenian Genocide of 1915 as the first genocide of the 20th century, which he had made in 2015 at the Vatican and in 2016 in Yerevan. His Holiness Pope Francis reiterated his conviction on this matter.
Speaking of the conflicts in the Middle East and the current problems of the churches, Aram I said that the churches had endured difficulties at the cost of martyrdom for centuries and, yet presently, they remain committed to their vocation. He then thanked Pope Francis and the Vatican for defending the rights of Christians in the Middle East and for supporting efforts towards Christian-Muslim cooperation and conviviality. Pope Francis welcoming the Catholicos’ reminder stressed, in his turn, the vital importance of the Christian presence in the Middle East and assured of the continuing solidarity of the Vatican to this effect. In this context, the two Pontiffs emphasized the need to continue, with renewed pace, interreligious dialogue and collaboration in general, and Christian-Muslim in particular, to face together concerns and challenges of modern societies.
Aram I speaking about the importance of the unity of the church, pointed out that establishing a common date for Easter would be a visible expression of Christian unity. The Holy Father reminded Aram I that during the last few decades the Catholic Church has given special attention to this matter and welcomes any efforts aimed at fixing a common date, which could be acceptable by all the churches.
Aram I shared the good news that Lebanon elected a new president, General Michel Aoun. The Pope warmly greeted the election of a president, considering it an important step towards deepening the Christian-Muslim cohabitation in Lebanon.
Referring to the historical relations between the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia and the Vatican, which dates back to the time of the Armenian Kingdom in Cilicia, Aram I reaffirmed his commitment to continue bilateral relation and collaboration with the Vatican. At the end of their meeting, the Pontiffs reemphasized the importance of bringing the church to the people through the kind of initiatives which make the church a living and relevant reality in the life of the people.