Catholicos of All Armenians
You can be certain that I am committing these words to paper unwillingly, especially when I just heard a little while ago that you recently reproached your bishops, who supposedly never counteract the numerous articles written against you that often appear on web pages. As they say, “Silence is a sign of approval.”
In the month of September, during the course of the theatrical representative convocation which took place in the Mother See of Holy Ejmiatsin, once again was repeated and reiterated the viewpoint of converting the Jerusalem Armenian Apostolic Patriarchate and Hierarchical See to a “diocese”. It is said that “The fruit does not fall far from the tree”, and this year a number of wild-barking mouths, Hovnan, Mikayel, Haykazoun and Hovakim Srpazans . . . with understandable reasons, dictated and motivated — not so much for the security of their seats and statuses, but more so for the security of their pockets – expressing your primary and only worry, “bravely” demanded that the Patriarchate of Jerusalem be directly subject to Ejmiatsin.
Of those bishops, Hovnan Srpazan, only a few years ago was expressing the desire to become a member of the Sts. James Brotherhood, similar to his brother in Christ, Pakrad Srpazan, driven by burning hopes of the future. Mikayel Srpazan, instead of occupying himself with immediate threats inside his own diocese with the spreading sects and catholicism, occupies himself with issues above his mental capacities. Money-worshipping Haygazoun Srpazan, barely worthy of episcopacy, has converted his occasional anti-Karekinian refrain to an “Only Karekin” marching song. And we would not want to talk about the so-called tragic Hovagim, who like a group of Ejmiatsinite bishops coming to Jerusalem, were directing their complaints about your constraining — they are satisfied only with using that word — relation toward the entire brotherhood.
All these Ejmiatsinite members who have come and enjoyed the benefits of this Seat, apparently driven by their salesmanship, have not noticed and perhaps have not wanted to see this eternal struggle that each member of the Armenian Jerusalem brotherhood bears in search and on account of our National rights. As if it were not enough of our daily issues and difficulties with other Christian communities, and on the other hand our constant issues with Jews and Moslems; now the brotherhood of Ejmiatsin like you, have risen on a crusade against the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, driven by the itch of despotism . . . the fruit does not fall far from the tree. Your Holiness, at one time you tried to neutralize the Jerusalem and Constantinople Hierarchical Seats, but you did not succeed; come now, don’t try again. And don’t ever forget that foreigners have become familiar with the Armenian Church by means of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
This Supreme Establishment throughout the centuries has endured human and natural terrors, our forebears, all generations of catholicoi have recognized and accepted the Canons and Hierarchy of our Patriarchate; but what is it that gives you the right of directing your courtiers to adopt such a negative stance against our Brotherhood; is it perhaps that you consider yourself smarter than your predecessors? Having commercial and business qualities are not necessarily attributes of intelligence. You can take and sell a man, but YOU CAN NE-VER KEEP AND USURP SANCTITY.
During the Second World War, Winston Churchill came to caution the German governors, that “he who plants wind, reaps a storm”. And you for more than a decade of your tenure have only planted wind and now you will prepare yourself to reap its storms. Years have elapsed since the fall of Soviet ranks, in those days when they put to work laymen who had a dark past, and why not, also those religious adventurers, to create thus a so-called “Free Church” movement. And these days, painfully, it appears that this same despicable spirit is re-emerging even in the Mother-Fatherland, where newly arising sects are still blossoming and becoming strong even under your “kind and tolerant” glance. You, who have been named to be the head of our Church, joining political anti-religious and faithless leaders, are attempting with your auctioned brain and childish and willful decisions, to uproot the centuries-old oak tree of the Armenian Church, because contrary to all the suns of your years, you have not yet matured. During the length of your entire life, you have lacked elementary sensibility, the synthesis of faith and understanding, which is one of the greatest graces given to man.
Your expressions and decisions are as sage and irresponsible as your thought process. The Armenian Apostolic Church during the course of its centuries-old existence has not endured so many external blows, as much as those mindless and destructive attempts, which you, Holiness, a native child of this same Church, are preparing from within, against her. To separate the Armenian Church from her character would signify to sever the umbilical cord from its past, where the ideal of a feeling and influence for religion have reciprocally strengthened and interwoven with each other, shaping our Armenian personality and creating the miracle of our centuries. Those who have given themselves the right of guarding public benefits and morality, must well know that the thunderbolt without striking does not give a spark, just as blisters are not healed without the strike of a surgical knife. We are writing these words in the belief that seeing the harm and remaining indifferent would be to aid the harm. and again on the occasion of our Father Baret’s episcopal ordination, you demonstrated the same inexpert and raw stance — relying upon the say-so\s of a group of people and on past accounts; people, who have even severed their umbilical cords with their nation, are trying with a few dollars to “buy” their unknown and incomprehensible things — always ignoring their essence, THE RIGHT, that in this case was the decision of the Jerusalem Sts. James Brotherhood Assembly.
You are an uninformed blamer and an individual unable to distinguish the first from the second, who sees realities according to the ability of his eyes and/or the color of his lenses; in other words, Holiness, you are among the ones who tie the horses to the rear of the cart. Now the time has come that you stop like a resident of paradise trying to cover your moral nakedness and emptiness with fig leaves.
In these days, our Church finds itself facing such conditions and appearances, that lead our mind to serious doubts and morose visions, when for a moment only we have before our eyes all our current national and religious beatitudes, which thanks to our people have been worth something and can still be of value. Know well, that the power and greatness of a people are not the secret element or finance, because peoples do not die from their physical wounds, but more so, from the spiritual ones. Our nation’s attacker, more than our encountered tragedies, is the indifference and self-centrism of our leaders, and this one can be considered a natural death for a people. The time has come, Holiness, that you are obliged to recover your spiritual values, if you have ever had them; otherwise, you must also declare yourself defrocked and save our Mother Church from total destruction.
The Armenian Church has always been the hearth of our rational, spiritual and moral tensions. It has been our extraordinary, avowed Ark of Faith. Our Church, this respectable religious-national institution, is the greatest creation of our people, who passing through insurmountable historical and political conditions, taking Shape and Character, has reached us, and you as the “Father of all”, must stop being rancorous, and look at all with equality and especially sincerity. Your doubts, founded or unfounded, which have generally been unfounded, and there are situations when from your part it would be greatness to admit the mistake that was made.
Holiness, you can be sure, that the Mother See of Holy Ejmiatsin remains for us and always will remain a source of inspiration and hope, while you …
Abp. Nourhan Manougian
Patriarch of Armenian Jerusalem
P.S. Taking into account that you did not have the elemental politeness of answering the letter sent to you from the Patriarchate, I chose to transmit this one to you via the network.
(English translation by The Truth Must Be Told)