Istanbul (Agenzia Fides) - A group of Turkish Christians of the Armenian Apostolic Church organized a protest demonstration yesterday, Thursday, June 23, in Istanbul, outside the headquarters of their Patriarchate, to ask the election of a new Patriarch. The episode reveals the degree of tension lived in the Armenian community in Turkey, concerning the leadership of the Patriarchate.
In 2008, the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, Mesrob II, was hit by Alzheimer's disease in a form that has rapidly reduced him to a vegetative state. According to Turkish laws, the office of Patriarch is held for life, and a new Armenian Patriarch cannot be elected until his predecessor is still alive. Since 2008, Archbishop Aram Atesyan exercises the patriarchal duties as Patriarchal Vicar for the ordinary administration of the Patriarchate. But in recent times the criticism and the malaise against him have been reinforced, especially after the letter he sent to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, in which the Patriarchal Vicar expressed "his regret and that of Armenians" for the resolution passed by the German Parliament on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, defined by him as an attempt to exploit the tragedy of the Armenian people for the interests of "international politics" (see Fides 14/6/2016).
According to a statement sent to Agenzia Fides, the group of protesters deposited a black wreath in front of the Armenian Patriarchate, with the inscription: "We want to elect our Patriarch ourselves". The canonical laws provide that the election of a new Patriarch can only happen in case of death or voluntary resignation of his predecessor. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 24/06/2016)