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RIGHTS > Armenian Church decides to end blessing mixed marriages

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News

Armenian Patriarchate restarts regulations which nix the blessing and the church wedding for the mixed marriages. Decision stirs debate in the Armenian community

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Murat Kaspar (groom), who married a Muslim Turk last month with a church wedding, said the church’s decision stemmed from a desire to protect the community and its traditions amid the country’s shrinking Armenian population.

Murat Kaspar (groom), who married a Muslim Turk last month with a church wedding, said the church’s decision stemmed from a desire to protect the community and its traditions amid the country’s shrinking Armenian population.

Vercihan Ziflioğlu Vercihan Ziflioğlu vercihan.ziflioglu@hurriyet.com.tr

The Armenian Patriarchate in Turkey has restarted implementing regulations in regards to mixed marriages, under which Armenians marrying a person of a different religion will no longer receive a blessing or be permitted to conduct a church wedding.

The permission for a church wedding for mixed marriages started in 2000 with Patriarch Mesrop Mutafyan’s approval, but the move sparked debate within the community.

“We are putting into practice a law that already exists in our church. I do not want to make any other statement than this,” acting Patriarch Aram Ateşyan told the Hürriyet Daily News regarding the latest move.

The new regulation went into effect Oct. 1.

Armenians in mixed marriages, as well as those from the community engaged to non-Armenians, gave partial support to the patriarchate but also expressed criticism on the matter.

Murat Kaspar, a 36-year-old design editor at daily Dünya who married a Muslim Turk last month, said the church’s decision stemmed from a desire to protect the community and its traditions amid the country’s shrinking Armenian population.
“I do not think this decision is right. To have a church wedding is a tradition. If those couples who will get married respect each other’s beliefs, then this should not be prevented. I oppose conservatism,” he said.
Zakarya Mildanoğlu, a prominent member of the Armenian community, married a Muslim Turkish woman 35 years ago. “We had to go through extreme difficulties. Even though my wife converted to my religion, our children were not baptized,” he said.

Feeling restricted
“Despite all the difficulties, I have not even for one moment thought about taking a step back. Fortunately, I married my wife. If I had married an Armenian, I don’t know if I would have been this happy. It was my mother, not us, who experienced sadness. She was very sad that the church refused to baptize the children,” Mildanoğlu said.
‘I feel restricted’
Kristin, 33, who did not want to disclose her last name, is set to marry a Muslim Turk. While she said she understood that the measures were designed to protect the community, she also said she was against the practice.
“The decision the patriarchate made seems wrong to me; I feel like I am restricted. I even want to hide my last name while I’m talking to you because my family and some of my close friends do not know about my relationship,” she said. “I’m afraid of community pressure.”
Kristin said the choice of two people and their respect for each other were more important than anything else, while criticizing the failure to bless the Muslim spouse in the church.
“Couples cannot get married the way they wish to. Their marriages are not accepted but their children are baptized. This is a controversy,” she said.
But Anahid, 28, said she agreed with the patriarchate. “The regulations of the Armenian Church and the community are definite and they should be respected. The patriarchate is not inventing a new practice. They are putting into practice one that already exists. There is a serious increase in mixed marriages. The population, traditions and the culture should be protected.” k HDN

October/11/2012

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READER COMMENTS

Notice on comments

illawarrior hill

10/15/2012 9:46:09 PM

the sooner the world rids itself of organised religion the better. Just leave people to their private beliefs

Chris Tahos

10/11/2012 8:47:45 PM

Love has to be the only criteria for someone to live happily ,no matter what the religion is.Personal choice has nothing to do with third persons, who finally have no influence in our lives.We can certainly live and prosper ,even without their blessing.Regarding the traditions it is up to us to keep and maintain them through time.

Murat

10/11/2012 7:15:30 PM

Best way to preserve the Armenian community and theit unique culture in Turkey, and it should be preserved, is to integrate it better to the rest of the population. I want to see an Armenian officer, an Armenian soccer star, and Armenian minister etc..of course, better ties with Armenia and less poisonous diaspora.

Nikos T.

10/11/2012 2:06:57 PM

Did he gave permition for having an affair? :)

Köksüz Kosmopolit

10/11/2012 11:55:36 AM

This is a good thing, actually, as it is likely to further reduce the church's influence over its own people. Let free men and women -- be their religious background Muslim, Armenian, Orthodox, Jewish, anything else or nothing at all -- make their own decisions and steer their own course. Soon only the most hopelessly weak and superstitious will pay attention to what the witch-doctors (of whatever sort) say about anything.

Brian Irlanda

10/11/2012 8:47:12 AM

Typical behaviour from out of touch clergymen. Vindictive, perverted, backward looking. Why does religion always bring the stupidity to the surface. These religions want freedom to practice, but do not grant freedom to their own people to follow their hearts and have a happy life . Love knows no religion and this move will reduce church membership and the Armenian community even more. People will marry whom they love regardless of them being a Muslim or a Christian. This is not the middle ages!

mara mcglothin

10/11/2012 6:11:55 AM

Typical of all religious idiots. This man has missed an opportunity to walk in his faith. Forget the population, traditions and the culture and think of the happiness of his people. I am a Baptist American married to a Muslim Turk, happily for 30 years. Our lives have been blessed and we have produced a beautiful son who has no prejudices. He loves Turkey and he loves America.
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