Patriarch of Jerusalem Speaks out against Karekin II

Posted on December. 7. 2019

12.04.2014 SOCIETY

A letter penned by the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Nourhan Manougian addressed to Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II about lowering of the status of the Jerusalem Patriarchate to a Diocese has created great debate in the Armenian Church.

The Patriarch of Jerusalem stated that he published this second letter on the internet because he had not received a response to the first letter he wrote on the same subject matter. The Patriarch’s letter contains strong criticism of Karekin II.

The Jerusalem Armenian Patriarchate, on of the four autonomous seats of the Armenian Church along with the Etchmiadzin Catholicosate, the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia, and the Patriarchate of Istanbul, has suffered turbulent times since the period during which the late Patriarchate Torkom Manoogian could not fulfil his duties due to illness. Archbishop Manougian was elected Jerusalem Armenian Patriarch in January 2013, and made headlines the following May when he wrote a similar letter accusing Karekin II of meddling in the internal affairs of the Jerusalem Patriarchate.

‘They only think of dollars’

Born in Aleppo, Patriarch Manougian summarizes the reason he penned his letter published on the internet on the weekend with the words, “As if the everyday problems the Armenian Church faces with other Christian communities and the state of Israel were not enough, Etchmiadzin priests, spurred on by your statement that ‘The apple never falls far from the tree’ have begun to crucify the Jerusalem Armenian Patriarchate”. The letter also contains the striking statement, “You tried to pacify the Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Istanbul before, yet failed. Come, do not attempt this again!”

The Patriarch of Jerusalem accused Karekin II of carrying out all these actions for material gains, and ended his letter with the words, “The Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin will continue to be a source of hope and inspiration for us, but you…”

Etchmiadzin: “Unacceptable”

The tremors the letter caused found a swift response from the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. On December 1, the Supreme Spiritual Council met in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and released a statement declaring that “the manner of the steps taken by His Beatitude Archbishop Nourhan Manougian [are] unacceptable”. The statement added that Manougian harmed the reputation and prestige of the Armenian Church with inappropriate language and actions for a clergyman. The statement also underlined that the accusation voiced by Manougian relating to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin turning the Constantinople Patriarchate into a Diocese was false. Archbishop Aram Atesyan, too, in a statement to the Marmara newspaper, stated that such a plan did not exist.

Not the first time

This is not the first time that claims have surfaced that the patriarchates of Jerusalem and Istanbul will be turned into dioceses. It is known that similar debates took place during the period when Patriarch Mesrob II was in charge of his duties. For instance, in a letter to Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II that he wrote in the year 2000, Patriarch Mesrob II expressed his discomfort regarding this issue. Mesrob II stated that he made clear his position to Karekin II the year he assumed his position with various practices and letters, and added that a patriarch could never be considered equal to a primate.

On the other hand, heavy criticism aimed at Karekin II continues to build by the day. Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II is criticized for his indulgence in money. His appointment of his brother as the Primate of the Diocese of Russia, his forcing of Archbishop Norvan, Primate of France, to resign, and his creation of division within the Armenian community in Nice are all seen as an outcome of his lust for money and power.

Discussed on September 18

The issue had been discussed at the 5th Universal Church Representatives Meeting held at the Etchmiadzin and chaired by Catholicos Karekin II on September 28. Vazken Barin, who on behalf of the Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate travelled to Armenia along with Archbishop Aram Atesyan for the meeting, said in his statement to Agos on September 26 that the binding of the Jerusalem and Istanbul Armenian patriarchates to Etchmiadzin had been discussed at the meeting. Barin had explained that, after he reminded the meeting that the Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate, founded in 1461 following the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed II, had existed for almost 6 centuries and opposed the changingof its status, the decision had been removed from the final declaration.


  1. An Armenian says
    August 6, 2013 at 2:20 pm
    As the spiritual leader of Armenians in Armenia, how has this guy help the poor, the hungry and the destitute population of Armenia? He erected beautiful buildings within the campus of the Mother Sea? Those were built with money given by diaspora Armenians and organizations. How did those buildings eliminate the suffering of the 35% of the population of Armenia living below the poverty line?
  2. Vartan says:
    August 6, 2013 at 2:37 pm
    Karekin is acting just like he is A CRIMINAL
  3. RA says:
    August 6, 2013 at 2:49 pm
    August 6, 2013 at 3:15 pm
    It is about time that someone has stood up to our Catholicos. He defrocked our beloved priest in San Francisco for being disobedient and not completing his military duties. He also was solely responsible to expel 2 students from my former Armenian School in Kolkata India. This “Holy Man” has to be stopped. What can we do as individuals to Defroke a Catholicos?
  5. Jda says:
    August 6, 2013 at 3:15 pm
    Pray for the wisdom and compassion of all our clergy, members, and families.
  6. Saaten Maagar says:
    August 6, 2013 at 3:54 pm
    In layman terms, the archbishop of Jerusalem has balls. It is about time that, what is known to everyone who follows our church, no one is above the law of the land and our church, no one! I hope more high-ranking clergyman of our church will raise such issues, if not for their own sake then for the sake of our church and the holy oath that they have taken. What kind of clergyman can witness such blatant abuse of power violations of our highest church post and still keep silent as if nothing has happened?
  7. Nomad says:
    August 6, 2013 at 4:21 pm
    What a bunch of bafoons… “genuine father and forgiving superior ,.. relate with his children….” Wow, the hubris of it all. How exactly are these guys superior or fathers one might ask, who elects them to be spokesmen of our culture and heritage?
    Why do we have this unwavering deference to religious opinion or reverence to it without even a scintilla of critical thought or assessment?
    We need to be more cognizant of the human condition and shed these chains from antiquity and embrace the 21st century. Secular society, by far has produced more good than bad (deeds), even within the metrics that any religion provides.
    It’s time we as Armenians realize religion is becoming more and more irrelevant in society; and with that, put our resources towards adding to human knowledge and understanding.
  8. Hratch says:
    August 6, 2013 at 5:07 pm
    Just proves that no one is divine and holy. They’re all human with earthly aspirations and interests. This exactly the purpose to have checks and balances at every level and in every field. As the saying goes, ‘Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’.
  9. Tsayt says:
    August 6, 2013 at 5:50 pm
    His Holiness Karekin II is inevitably, and sadly, a product of post-Soviet corrupt Armenian ruling class. Due to his post as the Supreme spiritual leader of all Armenians he has to be respected by us all. Having said that, the rumours flying around about His Holiness’s….unholy… behavior damages the integrity of the See. It is Karekin II’s, and only His, duty and responsibility to establish, and maintain, the reputation of the Holy See of Etchmiadzine, in doing so He will command the respect of the nation. Otherwise, he will join the ranks of all those Popes and “Holy” leaders in the Armenian version of Dante’s Inferno.
    Sweeping justified criticism under the rug is no answer. The longer things are kept quiet the worse it will get in the future, and ultimately it will bring irreparable damage to the Holy See.
  10. Sam says:
    August 6, 2013 at 7:46 pm
    I wonder if these people do believe in God and Jesus. Shame on them. They are using the church as a business instead of being a role model to original people . I saw him and met him twice. I will not tell you my feelings toward the Catholicos and I will stick with it forever.
  11. George says:
    August 7, 2013 at 7:33 am
    Maybe we should have our own Catholicos chosen by diaspora Armenians in the West (Europe & Americas) with his headquarter in Paris.

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