VATICAN CITY—His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilician on Thursday expressed concern over the diminishing number of Christians in the Middle East during a meeting with Pope Francis, voicing hope that the Vatican will pay special attention to that issue.
The meeting between the pontiffs, during which Aram I assessed Christian-Muslim dialogue as an imperative, took place on the sidelines of the unveiling ceremony of the St. Gregory of Narek stature in the Vatican Gardens.
According to the press service of the Cilician Catholicosate, during their private meeting, Catholicos Aram I thanked the Pope for his firm position on the recognition on the Armenian Genocide. As they discussed issues facing humanity, threats to the world, and the Christian response
His Holiness Aram I raised the following issues:
A common Easter Date. The Catholicos noted that the Churches celebrate the Resurrection of Christ on different dates not because of a theological disagreement, but only because they adopted different liturgical calendars (Gregorian and Julian), and he proposed that the Churches agree on a common date as a sign of Christian Unity.
Currently, all churches are facing internal conflicts and divisions because of social issues. Aram I therefore proposed that Churches suspend their ancient theological debates and focus on finding common responses to the contemporary issues faced by their faithful.
As a Spiritual leader living in the Middle East, His Holiness spoke of the urgency of a common understanding between Christians and Muslims, and he proposed that Christian-Muslim dialogue become a priority topic on the agenda of bilateral theological dialogues.
Sharing his concern for the diminishing number of Christians in the Middle East, Catholicos Aram I spoke of the need for more attention by the Vatican.
His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians also met with the Pope. The press service of the Holy Etchmiadzin did not elaborate on the discussions between the two pontiffs.