22 June 2006
On the evening of June 20, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians arrived in Istanbul on his first Pontifical Visit to Turkey. Upon arrival at the Istanbul airport, His Holiness and his entourage were greeted by His Beatitude Archbishop Mesrob Mutafian, Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople; high-ranking clergy of the Armenian Patriarchate; two metropolitan archbishops representing the Greek Ecumenical Patriarchate; Mr. Karen Mirzoyan, Representative of the Republic of Armenia in Turkey; and representatives of the Armenian community of Istanbul.
During the official reception and dinner at the Armenian Patriarchate, His Beatitude Mesrob greeted the Catholicos of All Armenians and welcomed him and his accompanying clergymen to Istanbul. His Holiness Karekin II offered thanks to Almighty God for having granted him this opportunity to be in Istanbul for a Pontifical Visit, to meet the faithful Armenian people of this historic city and extend to them blessings and love from the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. His Holiness also noted his happiness for the fraternal visit to the Ecumenical Greek Patriarch, His All Holiness Bartholomew I.
On the morning of June 21, the Pontiff of All Armenians, accompanied by His Beatitude Mesrob Mutafian and the members of the pontifical entourage, visited the headquarters of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and participated in Morning Services at the Greek Mother Cathedral. At the conclusion of morning services, His Holiness and the Armenian delegation were escorted to the throne room of the Ecumenical Patriarchate during the singing of the Armenian Church hymn, "Rejoice, O Church".
In the presence of the members of Holy Synod of the Greek Church, Ecumenical Patriarch His All Holiness Bartholomew I, greeted His Holiness Karekin II with a fraternal embrace, followed by his official and warm address of welcome.
Thereafter, the Catholicos of All Armenians extended his greetings of love to the Ecumenical Patriarch, noting in part, "...Our predecessors of blessed memory have visited Your All Holiness and your revered predecessors. Today, we are visiting you with brotherly love and a joyous heart. We are visiting a people and a Church, who share with us the inheritance of Christ, His witness and His love. We visit a Church, with whom we have shared a history of accomplishments and achievements, persecutions, suffering and martyrdom, prayer and witness, and which is alive in our hearts and minds today. We are visiting a Church, which through her rich past and present, continues the testimony of the Lord with love and peace.
"By visiting Your All Holiness, we are confident, that through our prayers and discussions, and during our meetings, we will enjoy the gifts of the love and brotherhood of Christ, which we shall transmit as a blessing to our faithful sons and daughters."
In his remarks, the Catholicos of All Armenians also recalled the historic visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch to Armenia in November of 2001, during the jubilee festivities surrounding the 1700th Anniversary of Official Christianity in Armenia. His Holiness offered prayers to heaven, asking God to "illuminate and provide warmth with the peace flowing from the Eternal Light of the world, to the souls and hearts of all, benefiting the strengthening of our faith, and the reinforcement of peace, reconciliation and friendship among all nations, religions and churches, founded upon the timeless principles of justice and truth."
His Holiness Karekin II concluded his remarks by praying for the cooperation between the two Churches to greater flourish under the blessings and protection of our Lord Jesus Christ, for the love and glory of His Holy Church.
At the conclusion of the official reception, a personal meeting occurred between the two delegations, whereupon general inter-church and specifically Armenian and Greek relations were discussed.
Later that day, the Ecumenical Patriarch hosted the Armenian delegation to an official lunch organized in honor of the Catholicos of All Armenians.
Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Information Services
Address: Vagharshapat, Republic of Armenia
Contact: Rev. Fr. Ktrij Devejian
Tel: (374 10) 517 163
Fax: (374 10) 517 301
June 21, 2006