PRESS OFFICE
Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Contact: Jake Goshert, Coordinator of Information Services
Tel: (212) 686-0710 Ext. 60; Fax: (212) 779-3558
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.armenianchurch.org

May 31, 2005
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DIOCESE DISCUSSES RIGHTS OF MIDEAST CHRISTIANS WITH PALISTIANIAN
AUTHORITY PRESIDENT ABBAS

The Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) focused on
rights and security for Middle East Christians during a meeting between
American religious leaders and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, May 26, 2005.

Bishop Vicken Aykazian, diocesan legate and ecumenical officer,
represented the Armenian Church in the discussions organized by the
National Council of Churches (NCC). He was one of 15 religious leaders
to attend the meeting.

"I expressed our continued concern and desire for peace in the Middle
East and justice for both the Israelis and Palestinians," Bishop
Aykazian said. "And we also talked about the security of Christians in
the Holy Land. We know the numbers of Christians in the Holy Land
diminish every day, so we are extremely concerned about their fate and
their well being."

Earlier this year, Bishop Aykazian was part of a delegation of American
religious leaders who traveled to the Middle East to meet with Israeli
and Palestinian leadership about the need to do more to protect the
area's Christian minority. That trip was orchestrated by the group
Churches for Middle East Peace.

During the recent meeting in Washington, Bishop Aykazian said the
Palestinian leader told the religious leaders he was grateful for their
efforts to bring about peace in the region.

Also at the meeting was Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the
NCC.

"We were excited about the opportunity to meet with President Abbas and
also look forward to the day when we will be able to meet with (Israeli)
Prime Minister Sharon," Edgar said in a written statement. "It is
extremely important that we continue to work and pray for peace in the
Holy Land. In spite of the conditions we remain hopeful that peace is
possible."

ASKING FOR SUPPORT

During his earlier visit to the Holy Land, Bishop Vicken reported that
Christian leaders asked American Christians not to forget about their
plight. One such awareness-raising effort was the meeting with
President Abbas.

Also, the Christian leaders asked for economic support and solidarity
from tourists. Visitors to the Holy Land not only spend money and
support the local economy, but also shows the beleaguered Christians
they are not alone.

The Armenian presence in the Holy Land is ancient and illustrious. The
Armenian Quarter in the Old City has long been a spiritual center of the
Armenian Church.

Relatedly, the St. Vartan Cathedral "Avaks" senior-citizen group is
planning a pilgrimage to the Holy Land this summer, from August 23 to
31. For more information, contact Fr. Mardiros Chevian, dean of St.
Vartan Cathedral, by calling (212) 686-0710 ext. 53.

-- 5/31/05

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