YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia said Wednesday he will not field his candidacy during next month’s elections of a new Catholicos of All Armenia’s.
Aram I said the next head of one of the world’s oldest churches should be a native of Armenia–without endorsing any specific candidate.
A pan-Armenian ecclesiastical assembly will convene in the church headquarters in Etchmiadzin on October 25 to elect Karekin’s successor.
"I am the Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia and I will remain as such–because I believe that it has an important mission in Diaspora," Aram said at a special news conference in Etchmiadzin. He said the main task of the next head of the Armenian church is to fight religious "sects that are de-nationalizing and de-Christianizing Armenia."
Aram I also denied rumors that the government in Yerevan is actively lobbying for the election of Archbishop Karekin Nersisian–one of the leading candidates. But he added that it is "natural" for the authorities to "express their opinions" on who should become the next Catholicos.