Tensions escalate at Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate as Ateshian refuses to step down

12:44 • 17.03.17



The refusal by the Patriarchate’s Vicar General Archbishop Aram Ateshian to step down following Wednesday’s election of a Locum Tenens and his apparent collusion with the Istanbul Governor’s office, which deemed the process illegal, have escalated tensions within the Patriarchate.


Immediately after the Patriarchate’s Clerical Assembly elected Archbishop Karekin Bekdjian as Locum Tenens—Patriarchal alternate—Ateshian produced a letter signed by Istanbul’s deputy governor charging that the election process for a new patriarch, which began in October of last year, was “legally impossible.” Soon after the vote Thursday, the governor’s office release its letter to the press.


The decision for Ateshian to step down after the alternate’s election was agreed to last month at Etchmiadzin, where His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, had summoned Ateshian and the Patriarchate’s Religious Council chair Bishop Sahak Mashalian, who had resigned earlier as a protest to Ateshian’s interference in the electoral process.

In an interview with Agos, published on Thursday, Mashalian said that the notice from the governor’s office had rendered the Patriarchate dysfunctional. He added that a meeting should be held at the governor’s office immediately, a sentiment echoed by the newly-elected Locum Tenens, Archbishop Bekdjian.


Mashalian also raised the possibility of collusion between Ateshian and the governor’s office, saying that the fact that the notice was revealed after the election raises unanswered questions.

“There are two possibilities,” Mashalian told Agos. “Either it [the governor’s notice] came earlier and it wasn’t going to be revealed if Ateshian were elected; or it was designed as a notice that would be revealed if Ateshian lost. We don’t know. However, the problem is that this notice caused a storm in our church once again.”

Mashalian said that the situation should be handled in a calm manner to prevent clashes with the state and to restore “our freedom to worship.”

However, the events of the last 24 hours have created a situation whereby the Patriarchate does not have a religious leader, according to Mashalian.


“His Eminence Karekin is our elected deghabah [Armenian word for Locum Tenens]. And according to the same law, His Eminence Aram is no longer the vicar. Now, after this improper and untimely interference, we have a vicar who is not a vicar and a deghabah who is not a deghabah,” stressed Mashalian.

 

“His Eminence Aram’s resignation would solve everything,” added Mashalian who cited the meeting in Etchmiadzin last month, when all sides agreed to a smooth transition toward the election of a Patriarch in Istanbul.

 

Meanwhile, more revelations have come to light about Thursday’s tense meeting and the election.

According to Agos, after the votes were counted and it became clear that Bekdjian had won, Ateshian made the announcement and stormed out of the room, only to return a few minutes later with the governor’s notice in hand.


After the revelation of the notice, Mashalian, Ateshian and Bekdjian reportedly retreated to a nearby office, from where shouts were heard.


Sources who overheard the heated exchange between the top clerics at the Istanbul Patriarchate told Agod that Mashalia urged Ateshian to accept the results of the election and go to the governor’s office to explain the decision of the Clerical Assembly.


“They [the state] are trampling on our religious life. This is interference. This election happened.

We have to go to the governor’s office and tell that Bekdjian is our deghabah. You are the one who should do it,” Mashalian reportedly told Ateshian, to which the latter responded “I am holding my seat until the state gives permission.”





LATEST NEWSAll Today news

18:01 • 20/09

Azerbaijan imparting religious context to Karabakh conflict - official  

17:15 • 20/09

Barcelona condemn Spanish crackdown on Catalan independence vote

16:55 • 20/09

Serzh Sargsyan affirmed Armenia's position on Karabakh from UN podium – politician

16:13 • 20/09

US State Department tightens visa rules

16:05 • 20/09

‘Architects of Denial’ screening to open 2017 ANCA-WR grassroots conference

15:51 • 20/09

Porsche officially launches $16m hybrid yacht (ohotos)

15:30 • 20/09

Armenian president’s UN speech strong message to back Nagorno-Karabakh’s self-determination - official  

14:18 • 20/09

US congressmen strengthen solidarity with Artsakh during working visit to Shushi and Stepanakert

13:05 • 20/09

Armenian official blasts Azerbaijan over stalemate in Karabakh peace talks

12:10 • 20/09

Serzh Sargsyan says Armenia will be 'consistent in promoting UN goals'

11:55 • 20/09

British woman, 47, gives birth to healthy baby seven years after menopause

11:35 • 20/09

Azerbaijan Laundromat: Merkel ally 'received cash from regime' – The Guardian  

11:22 • 20/09

Armenian American orphans Christmas telethon strives to be most successful one yet – LA Times Jeff Landa

10:50 • 20/09

Nalbandian to meet with OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs in NYC

10:22 • 20/09

Nagorno-Karabakh president meets with US congress members in Yerevan

10:01 • 20/09

Erdogan reiterates call on Kurds to cancel independence referendum

09:53 • 20/09

Serzh Sargsyan meets with President of Poland in New York

09:35 • 20/09

Trump slams Maduro at UN, calling him Hitler

09:16 • 20/09

Right to self-determination vital element in Karabakh peace – Serzh Sargsyan

18:08 • 19/09

Armenia needs active Diaspora investments  -  economist  

17:01 • 19/09

Russian arms supplies to Abkhazia, Tskhinvali pose regional hazards - Georgian ambassador

16:43 • 19/09

Ardshinbank offers mortgages with lower interest rates

15:33 • 19/09

Armenian figure skaters to join Olympic Qualifier in Germany

14:54 • 19/09

Armenian delegates hamper passage of pro-Azerbaijani report by PACE committee

14:22 • 19/09

Only democratic Turkey can recognize Armenian Genocide – Garo Paylan

13:36 • 19/09

World’s first all-electric yacht unveiled (photos)

13:11 • 19/09

Hayk Kotanjian: The importance of engaging renowned Diaspora Armenians in the cause of the establishment of Cyber Resources Management System in the RA

12:46 • 19/09

Conjoined twins born to US parents who already have five children

12:16 • 19/09

Erdogan, Stoltenberg discuss S-400 deal with Russia, KRG referendum

12:01 • 19/09

Idea to build effectively developing modern state inspiring for all Armenians – Karen Karapetyan

11:24 • 19/09

US ‘shocked’ by Russian-Turkish missile system deal  – Armenian analyst

10:16 • 19/09

US Senate passes $700bn defense policy bill

09:52 • 19/09

Zhamanak: Georgia backs new Armenian ambassador's appointment

09:32 • 19/09

US withdraws proposed arms sale to Erdogan’s security detail

09:13 • 19/09

Hurricane Maria lashes Dominica

14:11 • 18/09

Nagorno-Karabakh’s exclusion from peace talks accounts for Azerbaijani aggression - Karen Mirzoyan

13:35 • 18/09

Emmys: Diversity reigns over Trump as ‘Big Little Lies,’ ‘Handmaid’s Tale,’ ‘SNL’ dominate

13:20 • 18/09

President: Just and developing country lays firm groundwork to preserve Armenian identity  

12:44 • 18/09

Rolling Stone magazine up for sale

12:18 • 18/09

Our key objective is to increase Armenia’s population to 4 million by 2040 – Serzh Sargsyan

11:24 • 18/09

Automated police station opens in Dubai (photos)

11:12 • 18/09

Armenia-Diaspora conference good platform to unite over common concerns - Manoyan

10:47 • 18/09

China, Russia launch naval drills in North Korea  

10:35 • 18/09

I am very happy to be in Armenia – Garo Paylan

10:14 • 18/09

Eight killed in powerful storm in Romania

09:57 • 18/09

Turkey summons German ambassador over pro-PKK rally in Cologne

09:40 • 18/09

Sixth Armenia-Diaspora conference opens in Yerevan

09:10 • 18/09

Man Utd 4-0 Everton: Martial and Mkhitaryan stats highlight contrast with last season

21:58 • 16/09

Public and private sector cooperation is vital for AI development in Armenia: PicsArt co-founder H. Avoyan

14:58 • 16/09

Former CNN employee received $2.6m through ‘Azerbaijani laundromat’

14:32 • 16/09

Millions of world’s children lack birth certificate

14:12 • 16/09

Francis Bacon painting hidden away for almost 50 years set to sell for a record price at auction

14:01 • 16/09

Rosatom plans to start building Turkish nuclear plant in early 2018

13:40 • 16/09

Chance of 'catastrophic' climate change completely wiping out humanity by 2100 is now 1-in-20

13:15 • 16/09

London terror threat level raised to critical, says PM

13:06 • 16/09

Jennifer Lawrence planning hiatus

12:55 • 16/09

Turkey, US urge Kurdish leader to cancel planned independence referendum

12:30 • 16/09

Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh host annual sporting festival

12:13 • 16/09

Full-size Titanic replica ‘half-complete’ (photos)

11:41 • 16/09

US Congress members planning 'unprecedented trip' to Armenia

10:44 • 16/09

North Korea seeks ‘equilibrium of force’ with US – Kim Jong-un

10:34 • 16/09

Lapshin urges Armenians to ‘stay strong,’ denies Azerbaijan’s suicide claims

10:09 • 16/09

US artist uses up to 20,000 screws to create impressive portraits

09:43 • 16/09

Queen Letizia of Spain celebrates 45th birthday

09:31 • 16/09

EU Council expands North Korea sanctions list after latest missile launch

09:12 • 16/09

IS claims responsibility for London attack

17:59 • 15/09

Ardshinbank general sponsor of unprecedented mega-show

17:53 • 15/09

South Korean artist captures beauty of falling in love in romantic pictures

17:27 • 15/09

Breast cancer breakthrough: Reducing belly fat could have life-saving effect

16:55 • 15/09

European court orders Armenia to pay €6,000 over failure to ensure effective investigation  

16:01 • 15/09

Home-made bomb caused explosion on London train

15:46 • 15/09

Ex CIA chief quits Harvard over Mannig

15:19 • 15/09

UEFA opens disciplinary proceedings over Arsenal-Cologne crowd chaos

15:12 • 15/09

Mercedes-Benz X-CLass ‘appalling’, says BMW (photos)

14:53 • 15/09

Hurricane Irma wipes out Barbuda island, US ambassador reveals (photos, video)

14:47 • 15/09

Turkey's purchase of Russian missile system may trigger sanctions, says US official  

14:40 • 15/09

Turkey feels betrayed over EU accession, says minister

14:20 • 15/09

Minister reports 35% economic growth in Armenia's IT sector  

13:40 • 15/09

Several injured in 'terrorist' incident on London underground train (updates, photos)  

13:18 • 15/09

He stands for champion of truth in Cause for Justice on Genocide – Turkish intellectuals remember Dink on birthday anniversary

11:58 • 15/09

Lady Gaga hospitalized with 'severe pain'

11:11 • 15/09

EU must change its view of Turkey - Chavushoglu

10:56 • 15/09

Angelina Jolie meets with UN Secretary General António Guterres in NYC

10:43 • 15/09

Armenia, EU close to signing new cooperation deal – European official

10:14 • 15/09

Haykakan Zhamanak: Three reported missing after illegally crossing Armenia-Turkey border

09:47 • 15/09

Saturn probe heads towards destruction

09:30 • 15/09

North Korea fire new ballistic missile over Japan

09:13 • 15/09

Brazil top prosecutor brings charges against president

18:51 • 14/09

States committed to democracy should gain more from Europe – Armenian parliamentarian

17:58 • 14/09

European Parliament calls for investigation into 'Azerbaijani laundromat'

17:42 • 14/09

EU-Armenia agreement compatible with other integration processes

17:11 • 14/09

Anti-doping bodies demand Russia ban from 2018 Olympics

16:53 • 14/09

Beeline Armenia launches online platform for domain registration

16:30 • 14/09

Nagorno-Karabakh recognition on European court's agenda – Gevorg Kostanyan

15:28 • 14/09

Tourists who ignored warning not to cross perilous suspension bridge are left clinging on for their lives as the structure suddenly collapses

13:24 • 14/09

European Parliament calls for probe into ‘Azerbaijani laundromat’ scandal

13:15 • 14/09

RFE/RL takes Azerbaijani case To ECHR  

13:02 • 14/09

Armenian premier calls for proper control over national brands on intn’l market

12:15 • 14/09

168 Zham: Iranian arms supplies could be good alternative for Armenia, says analyst  

11:43 • 14/09

Ucom accelerated Facebook’s accessibility in Armenia