„The Christian clergyman of Karbala calls Iranian clerics to help in bringing Peace to Nagorno-Karabakh“ says a Persian article, published by the Iranian Young Journalists Club. The author of the article, Pouria Soleimanzadeh, a young Persian journalist is reffering to Bishop Malkhaz Songulashvili as „the Christian clergyman of Karbala“. Karbala is a religious title among Shia Muslims given to someone who has paricipated in the Arbaeen pilgimage from Najaf to Karbala (about 80 kilometers). In 2018 Bishop Malkhaz particimated in the Arbaeen walk/pilgrimage and hence his Shia religious title: Bishop Malkhaz of Karbala.
The lengthy article speaks in details about the initiative of Peace Cathedral to bring Azerbaijani and Armenian clergy to pray for peace between Armania ans Azerbaijan. In his interview with the Iranian journalist Bishop Malkhaz called Irianian clergy to joing Peaec Cathedrao in prayer for peace.
Peace Cathedral has already received an assurance from some Iranian clergymen that they will be virtually joining the Peace Prayer at Peace Cathedral in Tbilisi every Saturday at 7 pm (Georgian Standard Time) until the war is over. Peace Cathedral has also received assurance of joining the Peace Prayer from its German, American, Israeli, Italian and British fiends. This includes clergy from Anglican, Old Anglo Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Yezidi, Armenian Protestant and Armenian Apostolic, Shia and Sunni Muslim, Jewish backgrounds.
Inter-faith vigil for peace at Baptist Peace Cathedral in Tbilisi, Georgia
On the 18th day since the beginning of the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Peace Cathedral hosted an interfaith vigil for peace in the Caucasus. Along with clergy from various confessions, the vigil was attended by Azerbaijani and Armenian clergy and their faithful.
Scripture readings were read out from the Gospel and the Quran. Similarly, prayers for peace were offered in the Georgian, Armenian, Yezidi and Arabic languages. The service was led by Malkhaz Songulashvili, the Metropolitan Bishop of Tbilisi, being assisted by Sheikh Mirtag Asadov and Father Narek Kushian, representing Azerbaijani and Armenian communities.
Armenian and Azeri clergy thanked Peace Cathedral for its peaceful initiative. The event was marked by the spirit of peace and reconciliation. The Armenian and Azeri clergy exchanged words of hope for a peaceful future.
At the end of the vigil, after having consultation among Georgian, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Yezidi and Georgian clergy, the following statement was made:
„We, the Yezidi, Muslim and Christian clergy gathered at the Peace Cathedral agreed to commit ourselves to observe vigils for peace and reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan every week until the war is over. The vigil will be held at Peace Cathedral every Saturday at 19:00.
At the same time, we call all churches, synagogues, mosques, temples to offer prayers for peace and reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan every Saturday at 19:00 (Tbilisi time) until the war is over. The faithful and clergy should feel free to offer their prayers either publicly or privately upon their convenience. Peace and reconciliation shall not have any other alternatives.“
„I did not expect neither such an attendance nor such sincerity from today’s vigil. I think the participation of the Yezidi Akhtiar of Georgia, Dimitri Pirbari, has also balanced the service and added entirely different dimensions to it,“ said Bishop Rusudan Gotziridze after the vigil.
Bishop Ilia Osephashvili of East Georgia was also pleased with the vigil:
„It was a very moving event.’ He wrote, „Perhaps it was crucial to hold the vigil… When Azerbaijanis came and there was no sign of Armenians, I got bed feelings, but I was mistaken. Armenian clergy came to Peace Cathedral along with a group of young people.
Nano Saralishvili, a young student of Ilia State University, who was supposed to act as a designated photographer for the vigil was moved by the service. „The service was immensely emotional. It was very simple and plain. Because of this, it was very natural. I was intending to take pictures, but I had such a feeling that I would somehow distort the sense of sacred, therefore I took only two photos at the end of the service,“ She maintained. „Even though all of us had come with certain position over the war [in the Caucasus] the encounter in the Cathedral, because of sincere nature of the meeting, took the participants beyond the domain of territorial claims and desire for ownership. It reminded all of us that we are human beings, we are living creatures, who suffer pain, who are scared, who are hoping, who are believing and what’s more: we all want to see the war end.“ Wrote Giga Beriashvili, a Student at Ilia State University and a translator. In his view „This is what happened today … today we took one big step forward in our own humanity.“ Mattew Saralishvili, another Student from Ilia State University and a young writer would not hide his excitement over the service: „It was indeed an honest and warm meeting. ‘I am delighted to have friends like you with whom we can pray together (Georgians, Armenians, Azerbaijanis),’ said Father Narek Kushian looking at Bishop Malkhaz and Sheikh Mirtag. It seems there is no other place where these people can pray together for peace. I was very moved to hear these words. I would like to believe that it will be possible to pray together not only at the Peace Cathedral but everywhere in this region.“
The month of April is always bringing change in Armenian history…
2018 seems to be not ordinary for Armenia. Everything started with a change in the Constitution, as the result of which Armenia became a parliamentarian republic, the Prime Minister got all power to rule the country.
After a new President was nominated, our ex-President, Serj Sargisyan, wanted to take again all power in his hands, by becoming Prime Minister, since he was not eligible to become President again (according to the Armenian Constitution, the same person can be elected as a President only two times). Serj Sargisyan had been a President of the country for ten years already. Thus, no legal grounds for him to become a President again. For this reason, he changed the Constitution, so that from now on the President will be nominated by the Parliament, rather than elected directly by people, and that all executive power is being transferred into the hands of the Prime Minister. According to him, politically, Armenia entered a new age.
A group of solitary elderly individuals from Armenia, who have been neglected by the society, unify in an amateur dance troupe and prove during each performance that they still can dream, fall in love, amaze and wonder.
Director: Arman Yeritsyan
Production studio: Bars Media documentary film studio
During my trip to Armenia, that I have just finished, I had the privilege of meeting Liana Manusajyan, a young human rights lawyer, who is also a member of the Advisory Council of World Vision Armenia.
During our short meeting we were able to talk about the recent peaceful demonstrations in Yerevan, Liana being one of the organisers. She has the kindness of responding to a few questions and allowed me to publish here her answers. Here is the short interview.
* * *
DM – Armenia is, for me, a paradoxical country. Armenians are smart, industrious and well educated people. However, Armenia, to a certain extent like my own country, Romania, is a poor country. How do you explain this paradox?
LEM – The reason of our paradox is monopolization of fields. No competition. Everything is centralizes in the hands of few people who don’t allow the competition.
DM – Because of its geographic location, of complex historical circumstances and the decision of its leaders in the last two decades, Armenia is under the spell of Putin Russian empire. Along the years I have been surprised by the level of acceptance that Armenians have of this political and economic dependence of the ‘Bi+g Bear’. Am I right? And, if so, why do you think this is the case?
LEM – You are right. The thing is that Russia wants to have control over economy and politics in Armenia. We have economical dependence on Russia and till we won’t find other alternatives to escape that economical dependence we should somehow take them into account.
“We have come here to apologize for what our ancestors did, to ask for your forgiveness,” two spokesmen for the Turks went on to say.
Shocked viewers across Armenia watching the Azdarar TV news channel on April 11 could hardly believe their eyes and ears.
Turks, claiming to be Christian? And laying wreaths at the nation’s genocide memorial? How could Turks, of all people, come to Armenia to honor the memory of more than a million Armenian Christians who had been slaughtered 100 years ago by their own forefathers, the Ottoman Turks?
Gathered around the monument’s eternal flame, the more than twenty Turkish citizens spoke out simply, and repeatedly: “We plead with you, if you can, to forgive us and the crimes of our forefathers.” Continue reading “Overcoming A Century of Pain”
In commemoration of the Armenian genocide, where about 1.5 million Armenians were killed to the Turks of Ataturk – a criminal act that was never admitted by the Turkish government, I invite you to watch (or watch again) the movie Ararat, directed by Atom Egoyan.
A picture released by the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute dated 1915 purportedly shows soldiers standing over skulls of victims from the Armenian village of Sheyxalan during the First World War
We are living strange times. Although both Nazi and communist ideologies have made tens of millions of victims, we still have Nazi and communist adepts on one side, and Gulag and Holocaust deniers on the other. Besides, we have the fanatics, on both sides. Even today, Lavrov, the Russian (I almost said Soviet) foreign minister, was vehement about the (unproven information) that Americans instigated one of the East European countries to tear down one of the monuments dedicated to the (supposedly heroic) Soviet Army, while at the same time denying that they are the natural heirs of the Soviet empire, that Putin in foolishly and violently trying to rebuild, as we can see these days in Ukraine.
Things are not different with the Armenian Genocide that we are commemorating these days. One one side we have the Middle Ages-like Turkish regime of Erdogan, which continues to deny the primes of the Young Turks in 1915, while of the other side we have fanatic Armenian nationalists, who are trying, at any cost, to oversimplify things and to present the whole matter as merely anti-Christian persecution, denying the role played in these tragic events by the Armenian insurgents, who followed the example of various Christians nations in the Balkans who obtained – in most cases by violence, their legitimate independence from under the oppression exercised by the Ottoman Empire. Armenians in Eastern Turkey, a territory which for many centuries, even before the time of Christ, belonged to Armenia, until it was occupied by force by the Turks.
No surprise then that Armenians (in an absolutely legitimate way, I believe) tried to obtain their independence, if needed by the use of force, while Ataturk’s Young Turks, tried to hold on at any price – even that of genocide – to the leftovers of their damned empire.
LIVESTREAM of the Canonisation of the Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide – April 23, starting at 17:00 Armenia Time Zone (UTC+04:00) [4PM Romania time], will be streamed in different media services from the Open Air Altar at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.
The canonization marks a major event in the history of the Armenian nation, as no elevation to sainthood has taken place in the Armenian Apostolic Church since the fourteenth century.
Pe 24 aprilie se implinesc 100 de ani de la teribilul genocid caruia i-au cazut victime circa 1,5 milioane de armeni.
Din pacate, Romania, din pricina unor calcule politice meschine, legate de interesele turcesti in Romania, si de interesele romanesti in raport cu Turcia, nu a recunoscut acest act criminal sub presedintii anteriori.
Cred ca a sosit vremea unui act de dreptate istorica, oricit de mult am pierde economic ca urmare a acestuia.
Daca victimele acestei crime oribile ar fi fost romani, nu ne-am fi asteptat ca armenii, si altii, sa fie solidari cu noi?
Sper ca intelepciunea si simtul dreptatii vor prevela, macar de data aceasta, asupra pragmatismului politic si economic ce domina cel mai adesea destinul poapoarelor mici si le face sa nu conteze in istorie.
Cu sincera pretuire,
* * *
Am transmis astazi presedintelui Iohannis, pe contul sau de Facebook, mesajul de mai sus. Sper ca voi primi un raspuns. Sau, si mai bine, voi vedea un act public de dreptate. Sa dea Dumnezeu!
During my first trip to Armenia, as I visited the city of Gumry, I had the privilege to meet Sister Arousiag, a true Mother Theresa of Armenia and we have met many times since then. She is the Mother Superior of the Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, and order of the Armenian Catholic Church. Please watch below a little clip about her work in Armenia.
They have fled to Armenia because of the war in Syria and tell how it is to live in a country at war. “The war should stop. People should lead their normal life and those who want to return to Syria should be able to do that”, says Zheni, 16.
This video was produced by World Vision Armenia, in support of the world prayer initiative for Syrian children, now, at three years since the beginning of the conflict in Syria.
Map of Armenia (in orange) and the surrounding region
[The presentation below was prepared for a recent meeting at the World Vision US headquarters in Seattle, Wa.]
I come from an area of the world that witnessed the birth of the three great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Like in many places in the Unites States, faith is an essential component of the day to day living of our people. That does not mean, however, that the faith of Christians in our region is really mature, nor that it informs every aspect of their life. God, in his grace, is using World Vision at this particular time of history to witness to Christ and the transforming power of His Gospel in the life of individuals and communities. I would like to share with you today some glimpses from what God is doing these days in Armenia. Continue reading “Releasing the power of the Gospel in Armenia”
Agenţia Associated Pressanunţă un fapt mult aşteptat. Guvernele Armeniei şi Turcie au acceptat să înceapă negocieri pentru stabilirea relaţiilor diplomatice între cele două ţări.
Relaţiile turco-armene sunt îngheţate de aproape o sută de ani, după genocidul din 1915, în care circa două milioane de armeni au fost omorâţi de turci în timpul tulburărilor care au dus la destrămarea Imperiului Otoman la sfârşitul Primului Război Mondial. Statul turc, moştenitorul Imperiului Otoman, refuză cu obstinaţie să recunoască responsabilitatea Turciei cu privire la această teribilă tragedie.
În luna octobbrie voi susţine în Albania un seminar pe tema unei perspective creştine asupra comunismului şi postcomunismului, pentru o întâlnire a Alianţei Evanghelice Albaneze, VUSH. În noiembrie voi face acelaşi lucru pentru un grup de lideri creştini din Kosova.
Crucea este unul dintre cele mai vechi şi mai cinstite simboluri creştine. Desigur, în mediile iconoclaste (evanghelice, dar nu numai) acest simbol este cel puţin suspect, pentru simplul motiv că el este folosit şi venerat (uneori, e drept, în mod exagerat), de tradiţiile creştine istorice, dar aceasta este mai degrabă, şi cel mai adesea, o formă de ignoranţă şi de îngustime.
Cei apropiaţi ştiu că eu colecţionez cruci. Am deja o zestre bunicică, pe care sper să v-o arăt cândva aici pe blog. Până atunci, iată mai jos câteva dintre crucile din diverse ţări care decorează pereţii exteriori ai capelei WV US.
După masa de dimineaţă ne-a deplasat, împreună cu ceilalţi membri ai grupului nostru, la sediul World Vision United States (WV US), unde aveau să aibă loc întâlnirile pentru care ne aflam acolo (aveţi mai sus o imagine a sediului WV US, care este altceva decât World Vision International, organizaţia umbrelă din care WV US face parte, alături de alte organizaţii asemănătoare din aproape o sută de ţări). Continue reading “Seattle – 2 – World Vision US”
Niciuna dintre ţările în care lucrez nu este atât de aproape de inima mea ca Armenia, pe care tocmai o vizitez acum pentru a nu ştiu câta oară. Istoria, eroică şi tragică în acelaşi timp, a acetui popor este absolut fascinantă. Legendele şi miturile lor sunt fabuloase, cel puţin pentru înclinaţia fundamental narativă a unui moldovean ca mine. În cele din urmă, dar mai important decât toate cele dinainte, trecutul creştin al acestei ţări, prima dintre toate ţările lumii care au adoptat creştinismul ca religie oficială, în anul 301, exercită asupra mea o atracţie irezistibilă. Continue reading “La poalele Araratului”