LOS ANGELES–His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia was given an official red carpet welcome Friday–October 14 by the Los Angeles City Hall–something reserved for only the highest ranking dignitaries. Starting with a breakfast reception in the historic Tom Bradley Room at the top of the City Hall building–local and state public officials had an opportunity to meet with His Holiness and hear his message of faith.
With the hallways draped by the city’s official red carpet and lined with Los Angeles Police Officers–His Holiness was greeted by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other officials including–Members of Congress Xavier Becerra–Diane Watson–and Hilda Solis–California State Senators Jackie Speier and Jack Scott–State Assembly Members Carol Liu–Jerome Horton–and Dennis Mountjoy–Los Angeles City Council Members Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel and California State Board of Equalization Chairman John Chiang. After a series of one-on-one conversations with various public officials–the official opening remarks were delivered by Steve Dadaian–chairman of the Armenian National Committee-Western Region. Councilman Eric Garcetti then welcomed His Holiness–commenting that it is an honor to have one of the world’s greatest spiritual leaders and peacemakers visit Los Angeles.
The three Members of Congress present all praised His Holiness for his work around the world to further peace and tolerance. They also reaffirmed their commitment to passing the Armenian genocide resolutions pending in the US Congress. California State Senators Jack Scott and Jackie Speier both emphasized to His Holiness the importance of the Armenian American community to the state of California. Senator Jack Scott expressed great hope that the new California Trade Office opening in Armenia will deepen the relationship between the state and Armenia through greater economic collaboration.
California State Assembly members Dennis Mountjoy–Carol Liu–and Jerome Horton presented His Holiness with a special certificate of appreciation and welcome from the State Assembly after which Los Angeles City Council Members Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel also presented His Holiness with a special "Little Armenia" placard and a City Proclamation welcoming the Catholicos to the City of Angels.
"The richness of a city is not in its buildings but in its community and I am proud that the Armenian community is an integral part of this city," said His Holiness during the reception. He went on to say–"we should join forces to combat violence and racism in all its forms and promote spiritual and moral values that bring people together in an environment of mutual understanding."
After the reception–Mayor Villaraigosa held a private meeting with His Holiness where he presented a special token of the city’s appreciation for his visit. The Mayor then personally escorted the Catholicos to the City Council’s Chambers where he presented His Holiness to a full session of the City Council–along with Council members Eric Garcetti–Wendy Greuel–and Alex Padilla. In his remarks before the City Council–the Mayor remarked–"for us you are a Head of State and we are honored to have you here." His Holiness then addressed the City Council session stating–"this Chamber represents the voice of the people and your Mayor–Antonio Villaraigosa–is the people’s mayor." His Holiness continued–"the greatness of any city lies in its quality of life which must be based on common moral and family values and we must work to deepen those values in our society. I am proud that the Armenian American community is not just an integral part of Los Angles but brings its full participation in the life of the city." Prior to departing City Hall–His Holiness also met with California State Controller Steve Westly.