ANTELIAS, Lebanon—The World National General Assembly of the Holy See of Cilicia convened on Dec. 4, under the presidency of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos, with the participation of around 100 clergy, lay delegates, and invited guests representing the prelacies of the See across the world.
The assembly, which gathers every four years, will meet for four days for an in-depth examination and evaluation of the activities of the Catholicosate, discuss the concerns and challenges of its churches and people, and establish directives for prelacies to enact in the coming years. The meeting will conclude on Dec. 8.
The main agenda item of the morning session was the address of His Holiness Aram I. His Holiness urged delegates to focus on ways to strengthen and grow the Armenian Church as a place where one can carry out its faithful Godly mission and serve the Armenian nation and its people.
His Holiness stressed that the church has to go beyond its walls, think in different ways, and also work in new ways to strengthen its mission. The Catholicos highlighted five priority areas that require careful attention and continued development: spiritual and moral values, religious upbringing and service, youth participation in the daily life of the church, the Armenian Cause, and the Armenian Diaspora.
In his address, Aram I called for the strengthening of spiritual and moral values. Speaking about the youth, His Holiness stressed that youth involvement in the Armenian Church is important because the wellbeing and future of the Armenian Church are dependent on the active participation of the youth. He underlined that the church must listen to the youth to understand their expectations and needs, to expand its ways of thinking and working, and to be inclusive of new ideas.
One of the important agenda items of the Armenian Church is the continued representation of the demands and rights of the Armenian people and nation. Two years ago, the Armenian nation marked the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, and the same year the Holy See of Cilicia took the bold action of filing a lawsuit demanding the return of its seat in Sis, in Turkey. This unprecedented action garnered world attention. Despite careful work and attention on this matter, the case finds itself at a difficult political crossroads. However, regardless of the difficulties, the Armenian Church continues its efforts for the demands of the rights of the Armenian people.
Finally, His Holiness stated that strengthening the development of the growing Armenian Diaspora is imperative. In July, the Catholicosate convened a special meeting to review the concerns and needs of the Diaspora and Armenian identity, and open the channels for renewed engagement in Armenian life.
In his conclusion, His Holiness made special note that 2018 will mark the 100th anniversary of the First Republic Armenia. The Holy See of Cilicia will commemorate this occasion by convening a conference in Antelias, scheduled for March 2018.
The Assembly continued its first day of business by reviewing and responding to the Religious and Lay Councils’ reports.