Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Christianity and the Middle East: Pope and Top Armenian Prelate Press for Mideast Peace

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Christianity and the Middle East: Pope and Top Armenian Prelate Press for Mideast Peace

Article excerpt

Christianity and the Middle East: Pope and Top Armenian Prelate Press for Mideast Peace

Pope John Paul II and Catholicos Aram I of the Armenian Apostolic Church have called for the revitalization of churches in the Middle East, for a "just, comprehensive and durable peace" in the region, and for the resolution of one of the most difficult issues in the Middle East peace process -- the "problem of the holy city of Jerusalem." (Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia, heads a large Armenian community in Lebanon.)

According to Ecumenical News International (Geneva), their joint plea for peace in the Middle East was made during an historic meeting in Rome. The meeting was held in late January in the course of Aram's first visit to the Vatican after his 1995 selection as Catholicos of Cilicia, Lebanon.

"Ecumenism is not a choice anymore."

The Armenian Apostolic Church, which belongs to the Oriental Orthodox tradition, is one of the world's most ancient churches. In the year 2001, the Armenian church will celebrate the 1,700th anniversary of Armenia's acceptance of Christianity as the country's official religion. The church has 6 million members, about half of them living in Armenia, and the rest mainly in the Middle East, Western Europe, North America and Australia.

In the past, relations between the Armenian and Roman Catholic churches have suffered because of theological issues, but recently there has been increasing contact between them. In December Pope John Paul invited Karekin I, Catholicos of Etchmiadzin in Armenia, to Rome. …

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