1) Armenian Government, Church Mourn Pope
2) Pope's Body Makes Final Journey
3) Marchers Make History as They Begin the Journey for Humanity
4) Belgian Leader Visits Armenia to Evaluate Cooperation with Europe
5) World Chess Federation Rates Armenian Chess Team Third

1) Armenian Government, Church Mourn Pope

YEREVAN (, RFE/RL)--Armenia's political and spiritual leaders have
joined the worldwide outpouring of sympathy for Pope John Paul II, hailing him
as a champion of peace and a friend of the Armenian people.
Catholicos Karekin II presided on Sunday over a special service held in
memory of the pontiff at the main cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic
Church in
Echmiadzin. "The death of His Holiness is a great loss for the entire
world," he said. "He was a tireless preacher of peace and custodian of the
Christian values."
The head of the Armenian church also paid tribute to the pope's
legacy in
a message of condolence to the Vatican. "Throughout his 26-year reign, His
Holiness Pope John Paul II was a staunch defender of life and champion of
justice," he wrote. "His Holiness's calls for peace and reconciliation in the
world were anchored in his moral convictions and love for humanity."
As moderator of the World Council of Churches central committee,
Catholicos of
Cilicia Aram I had met His Holiness on different occasions. The Catholicos
he "witnessed the strength of his faith, the depth of his wisdom, and the
clarity of his vision."
Expressing his profound sadness, His Holiness Aram I said, "His Holiness Pope
John Paul II will remain an outstanding figure in the modern history of world
Christendom. In fact, his relentless effort to make the Gospel of Christ a
living reality in the life of people, his unyielding prophetic witness to make
the moral values the guiding principles of human societies, his firm
to the cause of Christian unity, his openness to other religions with a clear
vision of living together as a reconciled community in the midst of
diversities, and his continuous advocacy for justice, human rights and freedom
made him an exceptional figure of great achievements."
President Robert Kocharian also offered his condolences to the Vatican's
secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. "The bright memory of His Holiness
Pope John Paul II will always remain in our hearts," he said. "We will never
forget His Holiness's blessing and great respect and warmth toward our people,
which was best manifested during his historic visit to Armenia as well as our
last meeting that took place in the Vatican in January."
Kocharian was among the last foreign dignitaries received by the ailing pope
before the drastic deterioration of his condition. John Paul used the meeting
to call for a "real and lasting peace" in Karabagh. He also praised Armenians
as people "always linked to their culture and Christian traditions."
John Paul was the first head of the Roman Catholic Church to set foot on
Armenian soil and describe the 1915 slaughter of Armenians in Ottoman
Turkey as
genocide--a fact emphasized by Karekin II. The pontiff spoke of a "moment of
grace and joy" as he arrived in Yerevan on September 25, 2001 on a three-day
visit that coincided with official celebrations of Armenia's adoption of
Christianity as a state religion.
"For ever, the annals of the universal Church will say that the people of
Armenia were the first as a whole people to embrace the grace and truth for
Gospel of our Lord Jesus Chris," he declared. "You zealously guard the memory
of your many martyrs: indeed, martyrdom has been the special mark of the
Armenian Church and the Armenian people."
A visit to the genocide memorial in Yerevan marked the most emotional moment
of the papal trip. Appealing to Good by its eternal fire, John Paul said:
upon the people of this land who put their trust in you so long ago, who have
passed through the great tribulation and never failed in their faithfulness to
you. Wipe away every tear from their eyes and grant that their in agony in the
twentieth century will yield a harvest of life that endures for ever."
The pope had termed the 1915 tragedy a genocide in a joint communiqué with
Karekin issued in the Vatican in November 2000. Another joint statement signed
by the two spiritual leaders in Yerevan likewise referred to "the
of 1.5 million Armenian Christians in what is generally referred to as the
first genocide of the 20th century."
John Paul's papacy saw a historic rapprochement between the Armenian and
Catholic Churches that culminated in their 1996 joint declaration ending an
theological dispute. The dispute had led the Armenian and other denominations
of the "oriental family" to split from the Universal Church in 451 AD--long
before the 11th century Great Schism that gave birth to Roman Catholicism and
Greek Orthodoxy. The Armenian Church has since been fully independent and
currently maintains good relations with all Christian denominations.
John Paul will also be remembered by Armenians for acknowledging their
suffering since the break-up of the Soviet Union. "Dear Armenian friends, hold
on to hope," he said at the farewell ceremony at Yerevan airport. "Remember
that you have put your trust in Christ and said yes to him for ever."

2) Pope's Body Makes Final Journey

VATICAN CITY (Combined Sources)--The doors of St. Peter's Basilica opened to
tens of thousands of mourners to view the body of Pope John Paul II on Monday,
four days before it was to be entombed in the grotto below the church
popes of centuries past.
Swiss Guards escorted the procession from a palatial hall in the Vatican,
accompanied by many of the cardinals who will choose the Pope's successor. The
pontiff's body was moved through St. Peter's Square and into St. Peter's
Basilica, where it will lie in state until his funeral on Friday.
The basilica will remain open until Friday's funeral. Rome expects up to two
million extra visitors coming to pay their respects.
Heads of state from around the world are expected to attend.
President Bush said Monday that he would lead the US delegation that will
attend the funeral, and leave for Rome as early as Wednesday.

3) Marchers Make History as They Begin the Journey for Humanity

FRESNO--Hundreds gathered at the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church
Hall in
Fresno, California on Friday, April 1, for the March For Humanity opening
Following welcoming remarks by Vicken Yepremian, representative of the ARF
"Soghomon Tehlirian" chapter of Fresno, the Reverend Vrouyr Vartabed Demirjian
delivered a message from Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian and blessed the
As the marchers were called to the stage, they received a two-minute standing
ovation from the audience. Noushig Karpanian read a statement to the marchers
by California Assembly Majority Leader Assembly member Dario Frommer.
March for Humanity coordinator Vicken Sosikian applauded the courage of the
marchers and reaffirmed that the youth is on the forefront of the battle for
proper recognition of the Armenian genocide. The March For Humanity, he
emphasized, has become the march of the Armenian people organized and led by
the youth.
After a second round of echoing applause, California State Assembly member
Juan Arambula expressed best wishes to the marchers and commended their
initiative. Assembly member Arambula recounted the horrors the Armenian people
faced during the Genocide and reaffirmed his support for the March For
and justice for the Armenian people worldwide.
Armenian Youth Federation Western Region chairman Shant Baboujian delivered a
powerful and moving speech praising the marchers' sacrifice and willingness to
make a difference in advancing the Armenian case by using themselves as a
means. As they embark on their journey, Baboujian asked the marchers to
turn to
the souls of the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian genocide as their source
of guidance and strength.
ARF Western Region Central Committee member and youth representative Dikran
Sassounian saluted the marchers for their sacrifice, willingness, courage, and
political maturity. He also spoke about new courses of action the Turkish
government is taking to deny the Genocide, as well as the important role the
Armenian community and Armenian organizations play in the quest for proper
recognition of the Armenian genocide.
The following morning, Genocide survivors, community members, and the
gathered at the Holy Trinity Church where they received blessing as they began
on their 19 day journey.
Close to 50 marchers began the journey at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 2,
walking from the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church. By Sunday evening,
marchers had already walked 36 miles and ended their day at the St. Joachim
Church, where they slept in a room provided by the church.
The opening ceremony and Church services attracted various Fresno-based
broadcast and print media. Armenian communities across the world have already
shown their support for the March For Humanity. Television reports in Armenia,
radio broadcasts in South America, websites in Europe, and Armenian and
non-Armenian newspapers and television newscasts have already covered the
and shown their solidarity with the marchers during the first two days.
Many organizations and businesses have also been very supportive. Major
supporters of the March For Humanity include the Armenian Relief
Society-Western Region, ANCA Western Region, Homenetmen Western Region,
Adin of
California, Sunworks Tanning, GBH, Horizon Armenian Television, Asbarez Daily
Armenian Newspaper, and Kerovision, among others.

4) Belgian Leader Visits Armenia to Evaluate Cooperation with Europe

YEREVAN (Armenpress)--Belgium's Minister of State and President of the Belgium
Chamber of Deputies arrived in Armenia on Monday, on the first-leg of a visit
to the region. Belgian leader Herman de Croo and Foreign Minister Vartan
Oskanian reviewed expanding Armenia's cooperation with European organizations,
as well as the Mountainous Karabagh conflict and Armenia-Turkey relations.
The Belgian leader paid respect to the victims of the Armenian genocide, with
a visit to the Dzidzernagapert memorial where he planted a tree in remembrance
of the 1.5 million Armenians killed by the government of the Ottoman Turkey in
"The best way to keep the memory of all victims of the past is to have peace
in future," de Croo told journalists, as he stressed that the tragic past
should not be forgotten.
In 1998, the Belgian Senate passed a resolution condemning the Armenian
genocide and calling on Turkey to recognize its past.
National Assembly Speaker Arthur Baghdasarian also held talks with de Croo,
focusing on legislative reforms in the country, regional issues,
Armenian-Belgian inter-parliamentary relations, and cooperation within
international organizations. Baghdasarian said that Belgium's support is key
for Armenia within the framework of the European Union's "Wider Europe: New
Neighborhood" program.

5) World Chess Federation Rates Armenian Chess Team Third

YEREVAN (Armenpress)--According to the World Chess Federation's (FIDE) April
2005 Rating List, five Armenian chess players are among the world's top 100
players. The rankings are effective April 1 to June 30, and include Vladimir
Hakobian, Levon Aronian, Smbat Lputian, Rafael Vahanian, and Gabriel
Aronian is ranked in the 21st position, while Armenia's top player Hakobian--a
three-time former world champion--is ranked 70th.
Armenia's national team has moved from sixth in the world to the third
position, after Russia and Ukraine.



Tuesday April 5, 2005 is Election Day in Glendale, which means one of two
things. Either Armenian-Americans living in Glendale will be able to voice
their opinions loud and clear--and send a message that they are an integral
part of the fabric of the Jewel City--OR they will beat each other up to a
bloody pulp and miss a golden opportunity to have more Armenians involved in
civic affairs.
I predict the latter only because I see Armenians unable to differentiate
between qualified candidates and other political latecomers. What baffles
me is
that most Armenian-Americans vote based on familial ties or what their
acquaintances say about a person rather than basing their decisions on an
individual's qualifications. I have to be honest with you and tell you that
I've been itching at the opportunity to let loose on some of these people for
even announcing their candidacies, but I hesitate now seeing that most of
Armenians are doing a better job of bashing one another than I could ever do.
At this point, if I were to jump in and dish out my critique of this person or
that, I would just be kicking a dead horse. Plus, I'm still hearing grumblings
from my rant last week.
So what does this leave us with? A very important lesson. I don't know what
the results of the elections will be on April 5, but whatever happens, our
community will have gotten what it deserves. Everyone I speak to has a
different opinion. No two people have the same prediction as to who is
going to
win. What a mess. I hope that whatever happens, this ridiculous election will
never be repeated. And I hope that the inevitable loss by some of these clowns
will be a message to anyone else who is sitting at home right now
their run for council next time.
I have to admit that there are some bright spots amidst all of this
For one, I have come to realize that Armenian television is the worst quality
television on earth. I'd rather be watching ESPN Uzbekistan! Watching grown
use sticks to knock around the carcass of a goat is much more fascinating than
watching grown men knock around each other like the carcass of a goat only to
make themselves AND their guests look stupid. The elections will come and go.
Candidates will either get elected or disappear, but unfortunately, TV hosts
are here to stay.
On the other hand, there have been some pretty creative campaign commercials.
One more entertaining than the next. My favorite game to play with my friends
is to turn the volume off while watching Armenian TV, wait for the campaign
to come on and then try to guess whether it's a commercial for a lawyer,
candidate, insurance salesman, real estate agent, or some other stereotypical
Armenian white collar professional. If you guess wrong, then you have to
take a
shot of whatever hard alcoholic beverage you happen to have around. It's a
of fun but I have to warn you to start off slowly. The quality of some of
commercials makes a person want to start channel surfing for infomercials on
personal finance.
Well, I think I'm through for this week. I won't harass you anymore than I
have. But I will urge you to go out and VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!
for the ethically challenged, I didn't just ask you to go out and vote six
times! I asked you to vote once and repeated myself for emphasis. (Trust me,
with some of these folks you have to make that VERY clear). So, until next
time, remember, that if you don't vote, you have no right to complain.

Skeptik Sinikian was heavily intoxicated while he wrote this last column. He
had watched over 47 continuous hours of Armenian television and gotten all of
the campaign commercials wrong. If you wish to give him a piece of your own
mind, email him at [email protected] or

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