His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia arrived at the Bucharest airport in Romania Saturday where he was greeted by an official welcome.
At the airport to greet His Holiness were Spiritual leader Patriarch Teoctist of the Romanian Orthodox Church–Romania’s President’s representative–the Armenian and Lebanese Ambassadors to Romania–the Armenian Prelate of Romania and Bulgaria–Archbishop Dirayir Mardigian and other officials.
Accompanied by Patriarch Teoctist of the Romanian Orthodox Church Aram I was led to the Cathedral in Bucharest . At the end of the church services–the Patriarch welcomed Aram I saying that–"It is with great happiness that we welcome your presence among us–and we extend our greatest thanks for accepting our invitation. We have known you and your great devotion to the church for many years. You belong to a church which has lasted for centuries and from a people which has always fought for liberty–justice and the protection of human values. You have done a lot of work to improve inter-church relations and at the same time strived to also improve inter-social relations. Your works are known to all of us and are famous among our theologians. On the behalf of Romania’s Orthodox Church–we express our greatest appreciation and praise you for your work as the Chairman of the World Council of Churches. At the present we are encountering serious difficulties in inter-church relations–but we are certain you will do your all to strengthen relations between all the churches."
During his speech–His Holiness said–"Twenty-eight years ago I came to Romania as a Doctor of Divinity–to participate in an inter-church meeting. Six years ago–again I visited this country as an arch-bishop–in order to Chair the world Council of Churches Executive meeting. And here I am this time as the Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia. However–at all these visits it has been and is the same person who has come to represent God’s Church and devote himself to inter-faith relations. I am very thankful for your warm words and welcome. Churches have offered me the important post of Chairman of the World Council of Churches–I have and continue to devote myself completely to improving church relations and making sure that the Church is always present in everyone’ s daily lives."
When speaking about the Armenian and Romanian Churches as well as the Armenian and Romanian people in general Aram I said–"A strong friendship which has existed for centuries holds our people and our churches together. In Romania we have had a strong community which has contributed to the development and everyday life of this country. In today’s world–friendship has to be established through communication and cooperation. I consider cooperation extremely important in the relations between our people and our churches. Both our people have struggled and fought for the same human rights and freedoms. We have to strengthen the relationship between our people and churches even more and once again fight for freedom–justice and peace collectively."
After the church service which was attended by many people–the Romanian Patriarch hosted a special luncheon in honor of Aram I’s visit. Present were Archbishops affiliated with the Romania’s Orthodox Church–His Grace Dirayir Mardigian–representatives of the Catholic Church–and the Catholicos’ scepter-bearer Doctor of Divinity Meghrig Parikian. Before and after the luncheon–His Holiness had the chance to talk to the Patriarchate about important inter-church affairs.
On Sunday morning in the Bucharest Cathedral–mass was held with the participation of the eight Orthodox Churches and the participation of Aram I. Present at the services was Romanian President Emil Constantinescu.
His Holiness was also invited by the Romanian President and the Patriarchate to participate in an international inter-church General Assembly which began on Sunday afternoon. Aram I also spoke at the opening of the Assembly.
After Romania–Aram I will also visit Greece–the Netherlands–Switzerland and then arrive in Los Angeles to take part in a banquet marking the 100th airlift of the United Armenian Fund.