Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Information Services
Address: Vagharshapat, Republic of Armenia
Contact: Rev. Fr. Ktrij Devejian
Tel: (374 1) 517 163
Fax: (374 1) 517 301
E-Mail: [email protected]
April 3, 2005

Catholicos of All Armenians Extends Sympathies on Death of Pope John Paul II

On April 3, His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, sent a
letter of condolence on behalf of the worldwide Armenian Church to the
Vatican, wherein he extended his sympathies to the Roman Catholic Church,
her clergy and faithful, on the death of His Holiness Pope John Paul II.
(The text of His Holiness Karekin II's letter appears at the end of this
release in its entirety.)

In 2001, at the invitation of His Holiness Karekin II on the occasion of the
1,700th Anniversary of the Great Conversion of the Armenians, His Holiness
John Paul II was the first Pope of the Roman Catholic Church to travel to
Armenia for a fraternal visit. Pope John Paul II was also the first head of
the Catholic Church to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide and
condemn the tragic events which befell the Armenians in the final days of
the Ottoman Empire.

The same afternoon, following Divine Liturgy in the Mother Cathedral of Holy
Etchmiadzin, the Pontiff of All Armenians presided during a special Requiem
Service offered for the repose of the soul of His Holiness John Paul II.
Prior to the service, His Holiness Karekin II stated in part, ".Today in our
Mother Cathedral we offer our prayers to heaven, commiserating with our
sorrowful brothers and sisters of the Catholic Church. We ask God to
receive the soul of our dear Brother in Christ in His eternal kingdom with
loving mercy and grant him rest. The passing of Pope John Paul II is truly
a great loss for the world. He was an untiring preacher of peace and
defender of Christian moral values. His Holiness' desires and efforts were
renowned, aimed at reconciliation, cooperation and mutual understanding
between nations, peoples and states."

In attendance for the Divine Liturgy and Requiem Service were high-ranking
bishops and priests of the Armenian Church, Polish Ambassador and Mrs.
Tomasz Knothe, and staff of the Polish Embassy.

* * *

His Eminence Eduardo Cardinal Martinez Somalo
Cardinal Chamberlain
Vatican City

Your Eminence,

It is with a heavy heart that we write this letter, having learned of the
death of our Brother in Christ, His Holiness John Paul II, Pope of the Roman
Catholic Church. On behalf of the worldwide Armenian Church and people, we
convey our sentiments of deep sympathy and consolation to our sister Roman
Catholic Church, and all of your clergymen and faithful.

Before the Holy Altar of Descent in the Mother Cathedral of Holy
Etchmiadzin, we offer our solemn prayers up to God, asking for the repose of
his soul. His Holiness' death is a great loss for all of Christendom. May
the Almighty bring solace to his pious and faithful flock.

We fondly recall our meeting with His Holiness in the Vatican, as well as
his historic visit to Armenia in 2001, the first visit of a Bishop of Rome
to our biblical land. In recent years, we witnessed the courage and
strength displayed by our Brother in Christ during his illness, which
provided the most excellent example of dignity, faith, hope and submission
to the all-providential Will of God. Throughout the 26 year tenure of Pope
John Paul II, His Holiness was a vigilant defender of life and champion of
justice. His constant appeals for peace and reconciliation among nations
were always based firmly on his strong moral convictions and love of
mankind. In more recent years, through his efforts and the work of our
predecessors of blessed memory, the fraternal love and solidarity between
our two Churches were greater reinforced and made stronger.

Today, Armenians dispersed throughout the world sympathize with your Church
and faithful, and we stand ready to continue together on the paths of
righteousness and service, all for the greater glory of God.

Offering our affectionate greetings and our blessings to you all, we pray
that the protective Right Hand of the Almighty grant progress and renewal to
the Roman Catholic Church. It is our plea that Our Risen Lord bestows you
with strength and wisdom at this difficult time for the benefit of your
faithful flock.

With Blessings,


Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
April 3, 2005