Armenian Apostolic Church Must Be Saved From In-House Charlatans Masquerading as Spiritual Leaders
Posted on February. 12. 2019
BY APPO JABARIAN EXECUTIVE PUBLISHER/MANAGING EDITOR USA ARMENIAN LIFE MAGAZINE
Throughout centuries, even under Genghis Khan, Ottoman despotic rulers and Soviet dictatorship, Armenian Church has served as a bastion of preservation of Christian spirituality and Armenian identity.
Sadly, despite its rich history and invaluable heritage, Armenian Church is currently going through a major internal crisis. During the last couple decades the Church has undergone radical change … for the worst. And this seems to be only the beginning.
Although many church members
and supporters in Armenia and throughout the Diaspora seem to be clueless about
or are unwilling to speak out on the internal crisis that the Holy See of
Echmiadzin is going through, there are countless reliable reports that the
spiritual leadership has been fast-losing its orientation.
The church is not the only
national institution facing such challenges. In recent decades, many of the
faith-based and community-based national institutions of the Armenian people
both in Armenia and Diaspora, have been experiencing deterioration as a result
of rampant corruption, nepotism and mismanagement.
During the past several years,
along with several Armenian media outlets around the world, the editorial
boards of the twin weekly publications ? English-language USA Armenian Life
Magazine and Armenian-language Hye Kiank Armenian Weekly have published several
articles bringing to the forefront of public awareness the current issues
adversely affecting the state of the Armenian Apostolic Church. They shall
continue to do so until healthy-thinking forces within our community bring
these invaluable national treasure under Armenian peopleЃfs direct supervision and disallow oligarchs to hijack
the future of the Armenian people.
An article titled ЃgThe Temple is Crumbling: The Corruption of the
Armenian Apostolic Church,Ѓh by Annie
Demirjian, the Director of Glendon School of Public & International
Affairs, York University on Policy Forum Armenia blog in late 2016, continues
to be relevant.
Prof. Demirjian wrote: ЃgToday, the foundations of this ancient temple appear
to be crumbling, as testified by two Armenian clergymen at an event organized
by the Armenian Renaissance Toronto Chapter at the Westin Prince Hotel on
December 1, 2016. Some 100 community
members turned up to listen to guest-speakers Reverend Armen Melkonian from
Belgium and Reverend Mardiros Berberian (via Skype) from Moscow. Both priests have been alienated and
effectively excommunicated by the Church hierarchy in Etchmiadzin but continue
to preach in their communities unofficially. In both instances, the respective
parishes have decided to forego the authoritarian ultimatums of the Mother See
in Etchmiadzin, opting rather to support their local priests. At the
discussion, both priests made it clear that this narrative is not about them
personally, and that they are not critical of the Church as an institution.
Rather, their expression of concern relates to its governance in light of ample
evidence of an inability to accept feedback and implement reform. This
represents the beginnings of a dangerous trajectory. While for centuries the
primary clergy and head of the church were elected by the churchЃfs Supreme Synod, the Catholicos today has instead
chosen for the first time to appoint current ruling clerics, who are thus no
longer accountable to the people they are designated to serve.Ѓh
In an August 2013 keghart.com
editorial compilation, JirairTutunjian and Contributors: V. Mekhitarian, M. Kojayan,
D. Abrahamian wrote: ЃgIn the past few
months a scandal?immense, terrifying and excoriating?has crashed into our
national public arena. ItЃfs no less than the management style and reputation of
the Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II. As catholicos, he is not just the
spiritual leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church, but is almost as important
to the Armenian Nation as the president of Armenia. A smear on the catholicos
is a smear on our Nation?even on those who are members of the Cilicia See, are
Catholic, ProtestantЃc atheist. The critics of Catholicos Karekin II have
circulated petitions, published open letters and articles, convened meetings,
commented on the electronic media, and some have even demanded the resignation
of the catholicos. The accusations leveled are in the many scores: Fraud, moral
turpitude, corruption, autocracy, the decline of Echmiadzin clergyЃfs morals and morale, malaise among the clergyЃcthe litany goes onЃcinclusive of the
Seven Deadly Sins and some. A diatribe orgy? Hidden agendas by his enemies or
enemies of the Church? Far-fetched allegations? Poison letters?Ѓh (See a compilation of the alleged failings of the
catholicos at https://keghart.com/Editorial-Catholicos).
Holy Echmiadzin, Armenia has
become a personal leasure center where instead of carrying out their spiritual
mission, certain spiritual leaders and
pursue personal fame and fortune at the expense of their flocks.
Reportedly, in 2011, it was
revealed that Vicar of the Ararat Diocese Archbishop Navasard Kchoyan drove
around in a Bentley (valued at $180,000-$280,000) at a time when the poverty
rate in Armenia was at a whopping 34%. Many critics found Archbishop KchoyanЃfs reckless disregard and attitude Ѓgeven more unacceptable due to his position in the
Archbishop KchoyanЃfs justification: The Bentley automobile has been
gifted to him by a wealthy Armenian. Question: CouldnЃft he settle for a modest brand car and use the
remainder of the funds to help the needy among his flock?
Corruption, nepotism and
absolute abuse of spiritual power and spiritual leadership position has not
only engulfed Echmiadzin but has mushroomed to faraway dioceses such as Western
United States and namely the Los Angeles basin.
Apparently weЃfre living in an era where individuals who turn out to
be like military General Manvel Grigoryan of Echmiadzin, Armenia who had
reportedly misappropriated aid packages provided by Armenia people for Armenian
soldiers, never fulfilling the donorsЃf desire to help
It looks like Echmiadzin, Armenia has become
the center of many different types of Ѓ”General Manvels”
especially on religious level. Many critics now accuse Armenian Church spiritual
leaders for misusing donations received for the intention of helping needy
Armenians squandering them on personal material fulfillment. These religious
leaders are now accused to be eager more to drive around in Bentleys then
fulfilling their spiritual mission.
The urge of driving Bentleys
and living lavish lives by these so-called spiritual leaders has also infected
lower-level clergy right here in Los Angeles.
Instead of carrying out their
spiritual mission these anti-church parasites who are masquerading as spiritual
leaders in their communities are in reality a bunch of charlatans who are
abusing their positions of leadership for personal gain and are exploiting the
goodwill of the members of the church.
A number of these charlatans
(luckily theyЃfre not known to be
many) masquerade as spiritual missionaries who deserve to be exposed and
expelled from the church. Speaking of anti-Christ, these elements are the real
parasites that are destroying the Armenian Church from within.
Their personal urge to drive around in Bentleys and living a lavish life
at the cost of neglecting their spiritual missions may be called
Bentley-Driving and Caviar-Consumption Urge Syndrome or simply Bentley Syndrome
(BS). A cure must be found to do away
with this so-called “BS” illness.