Category Archives: Eastern Church

Christianity without persecution? Armenian people were persecuted

Pope and Gregory XXThis morning in Rome the Holy Father offered Holy Mass with the recently-elected Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, His Beatitude Gregory Peter XX Ghabroyan, as well as with the Bishops of Synod of the Apostolic Armenian Catholic Church and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri (Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches).

The new Patriarch has taken up the spiritual leadership in a time of Christian persecution and I am sure he’s not going to refrain from speaking out against the injustices and spilling of Christian blood. We need his voice, and that of all the Christian leaders to raise our awareness of these crimes.

In recent months more and more attention has been given by the Pope to the tragic events of the early 20th century that killed many of the Armenians and denied by members of the Turkish government. “Perhaps more than in the early days,” said Pope Francis, [Christians] are persecuted, killed, driven out, despoiled, only because they are Christians”:

“Dear brothers and sisters, there is no Christianity without persecution. Remember the last of the Beatitudes: when they bring you into the synagogues, and persecute you, revile you, this is the fate of a Christian. Today too, this happens before the whole world, with the complicit silence of many powerful leaders who could stop it. We are facing this Christian fate: go on the same path of Jesus. One of many great persecutions: that of the Armenian people”:

“The first nation to convert to Christianity: the first. They were persecuted just for being Christians,” he said. “The Armenian people were persecuted, chased away from their homeland, helpless, in the desert.” This story – he observed – began with Jesus: what people did, “to Jesus, has during the course of history been done to His body, which is the Church.”

Armenian Genocide memorial“Today, I would like, on this day of our first Eucharist, as brother Bishops, dear brother Bishops and Patriarch and all of you Armenian faithful and priests, to embrace you and remember this persecution that you have suffered, and to remember your holy ones, your many saints who died of hunger, in the cold, under torture, [cast] into the wilderness only for being Christians.”

The persecution of Christians happens in a profound way today. “We now, in the newspapers, hear the horror of what some terrorist groups do, who slit the throats of people just because [their victims] are Christians. We think of the Egyptian martyrs, recently, on the Libyan coast, who were slaughtered while pronouncing the name of Jesus.”

The Pope’s prayer was that the Lord might, “give us a full understanding, to know the Mystery of God who is in Christ,” and who, “carries the Cross, the Cross of persecution, the Cross of hatred, the Cross of that, which comes from the anger,” of persecutors – an anger that is stirred up by “the Father of Evil”:

“May the Lord, today, make us feel within the body of the Church, the love for our martyrs and also our vocation to martyrdom. We do not know what will happen here: we do not know. Only Let the Lord give us the grace, should this persecution happen here one day, of the courage and the witness that all Christian martyrs have shown, and especially the Christians of the Armenian people.”

Maronite Servants of Christ the Light

There is a new expression of religious life for women in the Maronite Church in the USA with the Congregation of Sisters called the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light. They were founded in 2008 under the guidance of Bishop Gregory Mansour. Even if you are not discerning a vocation, I would recommend watching this video.

Here’s the blog: Radiate His Light

Gregory of Narek’s brief narrative

NarekYou may recall that Pope Francis, in February 2015, declared as a Doctor of the Church the sainted Armenian monk and poet, Gregory of Narek (950-c. 1005). He is only one of 36 by the Roman Church.

Many wondered about the person of Gregory and his importance in the Church today. Being declared a Doctor of the Church is one of the most singular distinctions that the Supreme Pontiff could give to one of the saints, but way this monk and poet of the Armenian Church, and why now? Why is this gesture of Pope Francis a key event?

In Michael LaCivita’s article, “Cries from the Heart: Armenia’s Poet of the Soul” gives a fine introduction to this Doctor of the Church.

Christians At Risk

Help make a difference at ChristiansAtRisk.org

#ChristiansAtRisk

New Armenian Catholic Patriarch of Cilicia

Today, PoGregory XXpe Francis responded to the letter of the new Armenian Catholic Patriarch of Cilicia, His Beatitude, Grégoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan, requesting ecclesiastical communion with him, and See of Rome. With this letter of the Holy Father communion between the two churches is confirmed.

In history, the patriarch was known as Bishop Krikor Ghabroyan (emeritus bishop of the Eparchy of France having retired in 2013). As with the bishop of Rome, the new Patriarch has assumed a new name. A new name and office bears a new title: Grégoire will carry the title of “Catholicos-Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians” and the patriarchal headquarters is located in the convent of Bzommar and his residence in Beirut.

Pope Francis’ letter indicates his joy at the Patriarch’s election with the hope that his new ministry will bear many fruits for the Kingdom. One line worth noting: “illuminated by the light of faith in the risen Christ, our vision of the world is full of hope and mercy, because we are certain that the Cross of Jesus is the tree that gives life.”

His Beatitude Grégoire Pierre XX succeeds Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni who died on June 25, 2015.

The Armenian Catholic Patriarch of Cilicia has jurisdiction over 18 eparchies world-wide.

His Beatitude Grégoire Pierre was born on November 15, 1934 in Aleppo, Syria, ordained a priest March 28, 1959, and consecrated bishop 13 February 1977. At his next birthday the Catholicos will be 81.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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