By Emil Danielyan and Ruzanna Stepanian
The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the worldwide communion of Anglican Churches, ended on Tuesday a four-day visit to Armenia which he said will strengthen their cordial ties with the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Williams was greeted by Catholicos Of All Armenians Garegin II at the Armenian Church headquarters in Echmiadzin on Saturday.
“During your visit we will have an opportunity to jointly pray for and reflect on cooperation, love and unity of the Christian Churches and further strengthen the existing friendly links between the Armenian and Anglican Churches,” Garegin said, according his press office.
The two clergymen spent the next three days visiting churches and other religious institutions in Echmiadzin, Yerevan and other parts of the country. They also attended on Monday an official reception organized by the British embassy in Armenian in connection with the 81st birthday anniversary of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. The diplomatic event was held at Garegin’s official residence in Echmiadzin.
Williams, accompanied by Garegin, was received by President Robert Kocharian before leaving Yerevan the next day. Kocharian’s office quoted the Anglican leader as praising the “centuries-old history of friendly relations” between the two churches. “He and the Catholicos of All Armenians reaffirmed their readiness to continue and reinforce them,” it said.
Williams’s itinerary in Armenia also included a visit to a prison near the town of Abovian where he familiarized himself with the plight of its more than 150 inmates, all of them women and juveniles. “My impression is that conditions are improving,” he told reporters there. “There is still some way to go. But I have seen conditions in other countries that are worse than these.”
Williams and Garegin took a particular interest in a 7-year-old girl who was born in the prison just months after her pregnant mother was jailed for murder. The 27-year-old woman told them that her main wish is to be able to raise her daughter in freedom.