STEPANAKERT (Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin)—His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, headed to Artsakh on September 5 to take part in the meeting of the Supreme Spiritual Council (SSC) in Stepanakert the following day.
At the opening of the meeting, His Holiness conveyed his blessings to the clergy and lay members of the Council. He also conveyed his personal appreciation to Artsakh President Bako Sahakian and His Eminence Archbishop Pargev Martirosyan, Primate of the Diocese of Artsakh for the invitation to hold the SSC meeting in Artsakh on the occasion of the 25th anniversary celebrations of the independence of Artsakh. His Holiness stressed the importance of holding the Council meetings in various Armenian dioceses, which will promote awareness and further strengthen the spiritual life of the communities.
“Our visit to Artsakh is a pilgrimage for us: a land which holds the memories of our ancestors, and where there are many holy shrines. We are here to kneel down in this sacred sanctuary and offer our prayers to Almighty God for the welfare of Artsakh and the prosperous life of the Armenians of Artsakh,” stated Catholicos Karekin II, stressing that the Armenian Church, with its worldwide dioceses and communities has always been and remains by the side of the Armenians of Artsakh.
His Holiness announced that on the occasion of the visit, on behalf of Holy Etchmiadzin and the Dioceses of the Catholicosate of All Armenians, the Mother See will transfer five hundred thousand U.S. dollars to Artsakh for the needs of the Armenians of Artsakh.
His Holiness prayed that God keep Artsakh in peace under His Holy Right Hand, granting a prosperous and tranquil life.
Reflecting on the Council’s agenda, the Catholicos of All Armenians noted that the issues to be discussed are of great importance for the regulation of the activities of the ecclesiastical structures of the Armenian Church, and effective organization of the Church’s mission and progress. His Holiness expressed his appreciation to the SSC members for their dedication and commitment; wishing effective outcomes to the work of the SSC meeting.
Before approving the agenda items, the members offered a prayer for the soul of the late Alberto Djeredjian (Diocese of Argentina of South America) a member of the SSC, who passed away on August 5.
During the three-day meeting, agenda items include issues related to the National Ecclesiastical Assembly, Supreme Spiritual Council policies, revisions to the Ecclesiastical-Representative Assembly bylaws, and reports on the religious institutions and activities of the Dioceses.
On September 7, His Holiness, accompanied by the members of the Supreme Spiritual Council (SSC), visited a military unit of the Artsakh Republic Defense Army, where they met with commanders and soldiers.
At the unit His Holiness and the SSC members where welcomed by Lieutenant-General Levon Mnatsakanyan, the NKR Minister of Defense. Following the welcome, the Catholicos of All Armenians conveyed his Pontifical blessings to the soldiers.
Following the offering the “Protector” prayer, His Holiness spoke to the officers and soldiers, expressing joy at the opportunity of meeting with them during his visit to Artsakh. “We are here to express our appreciation and love to you, and also show our respect to your committed heroic deeds, which we witnessed during the days of the April war. We saw how courageously you disabled the attack of the Azerbaijani forces and drove them back from our borders. We offer our esteem to our brave soldiers: heroes of our nation, who protected our homeland with their own lives.”
Noting that the defense of the Homeland is a sacred duty for every son of the nation, His Holiness highlighted the importance of strengthening their faith. “It is through faith that our people have taken all victories of our history; starting from the Vardanants war to Sardarapat and Artsakh. During the April war in Artsakh, we saw that strong faith in our soldiers.”
“You’re always in our prayers, we love you. Every child of the nation, both in the homeland and Diaspora loves you. Our nation is always by your side through her love and spirit and commitment. Our Church is also by your side with her resources and abilities, as well as with her servants,” said the Catholicos.
“May God Almighty always keep the arm of the Armenian soldier victorious and keep the youth safe and away from all trials so that after completing their service with glory and honor, they will return to their families, giving joy to their parents and to all the people.” His Holiness expressed his wish that the Lord decorate the soldier’s life with successes and victories, so that Armenia would always be prosperous, the Army – powerful, and the Armenian people would live in peace and build a prosperous life.
Following the formal remarks, His Holiness and the SSC members spoke with the soldiers.