By Emil Danielyan
Catholicos Garegin II voiced on Friday concern over reports that the number two figure in the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Lebanon-based Catholicos Aram I, intends to open a separate diocese in Canada – a move that could rekindle tensions between the church’s two governing centers.
The Echmiadzin-based Mother See, where Garegin is based, is the supreme body of the ancient church which has parishes across Armenia and Armenian communities scattered around the world. Aram’s office called the Great House Of Cilicia is technically subordinated to Echmiadzin and traditionally controlled only Middle Eastern dioceses.
Relations between the two Catholicosates sharply deteriorated with the start of the Cold War in the 1950s, with the Cilicia See, which had close ties with the then anti-Soviet Dashnaktsutyun party, establishing its presence in the United States to counter Echmiadzin’s influence. The end of Communist rule in Armenia led to the effective restoration of church unity.
The Yerevan daily “Azg” reported on Friday that Aram is set to challenge Garegin’s supremacy by launching a new church structure in Canada which is part of Echmiadzin’s north American Eastern Diocese. The paper did not cite sources of the information.
Garegin’s press office said later in the day that although the Catholicos of All Armenians has not received an official confirmation of the report from Lebanon, he “officially conveyed his concern” to Aram. A similar statement was made by the Supreme Spiritual Council of the Armenian Church which wound up a three-day regular meeting in Echmiadzin.