Sahak Maşalyan becomes new patriarch of Turkey's Armenians
Sahak Maşalyan became the 85th Patriarch of Turkey's Armenians on Dec. 11 after winning the election held in Armenian Gregorian churches across the country.
Maşalyan won the election after receiving 102 votes out of 119 against his rival Aram Ateşyan, who served as acting patriarch during the absence of Mesrob II.
The elections came after a long period of uncertainty and mourning following the death of Mesrob II, the revered head of the patriarchate of Turkey's Armenians who passed away on March 8 after an 11-year fight against dementia.
Archbishop Mesrob II Mutafyan died at age 62 in the Surp Pirgic Armenian Hospital in Istanbul’s Zeytinburnu district on March 8 where he was receiving treatment.
Born in Istanbul's Bayrampaşa district in 1962, Maşalyan graduated from Istanbul University's philosophy department and decided to become a priest in 1982. After becoming a high priest (vertaped) in 1984, he was then promoted to deacon (sargavak) in 1986 by then-Patriarch Şnork Kalutsyan.
After receiving a master's degree in spirituality in 1999 from Milltown Institute of Philosophy and Theology in Dublin, Maşalyan returned to Turkey and began serving as a preacher and spiritual counselor in Istanbul's Kınalıada, Kumkapı Dışı Surp Harutyun, Gedikpaşa and Galata churches.
Following the mourning process over Mesrob II's death, the absence of the new head of the church stirred unrest and controversy among the community.
Even long before the death of Mesrob II, when his health problems began in 2008, many called for an election, including Ateşyan and his dissidents.