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Istanbul Governor's Office appoints new head of Armenian community

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News | 7/2/2010 12:00:00 AM | VERCİHAN ZİFLİOĞLU

Istanbul’s Governor’s Office has acted against Armenian Apostolic Church canon by appointing Aram Ateşyan as acting archbishop without notifying the congregation.

Istanbul’s Governor’s Office has acted against Armenian Apostolic Church canon by appointing Aram Ateşyan as acting archbishop without notifying the congregation, according to the new spiritual head of the church himself.

Because Mesrop II, the current patriarch, is suffering from dementia and cannot fulfill his duties, confusion has surrounded the post. According to the Armenian Apostolic Church’s canon, a new patriarch cannot be assigned until the previous one passes away.

"The Governor’s Office clearly expressed their view. They said there could be no co-patriarch so long as the patriarch is alive. This is against the patriarchate’s regulation but we must respect this decision,” he said. “Of course some people from the community will react to the decision, because they had contrary expectations.”

The church’s spiritual committee insisted that a co-patriarch must be elected, a view that was seconded by the initiating committee.

The initiating committee, however, has been concerned that legal conflicts could arise if a co-patriarch is elected.

The assignment of an election date by Istanbul’s Governor’s Office was made more difficult because both committees made their cases in two separate submissions to the authority at the end of 2009.

Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review last month, Setrak Davuthan, a member of the initiating committee and the community’s attorney, said they had made an application to the Governor’s Office to be informed of possible election dates, adding that they would take legal action unless they were given a date for the election.

The office consequently appointed Ateşyan as acting archbishop, who told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review that his assignment was based on the order from the governor’s office which makes it the decision of the government.

Asked what would now change for the community, Ateşyan said, “Everything will continue as it has been.”

The Armenian community will not be able to choose a new patriarch until the current patriarch Mesrop II dies.

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