October 1, 2005

Listen to youth, bishop urges
International Christian leader brings message of peace

By BRODIE FENLON, TORONTO SUN

The Christian church must address the "critical issue" of its alienated
youth by reaching out and engaging young people as equals, says a leader of
the Armenian Apostolic Church.

"The gap between youth and the church is growing. This is a critical issue,
a pan-Christian issue," said His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia, who
is here this weekend as part of a two-week visit to Canada.

"The church should go beyond its walls," listen to young people and involve
them in making decisions, said the bishop, who represents Orthodox Armenian
Christians in Lebanon, Syria and Cyprus.

340 CHURCHES

He also serves as moderator of the World Council of Churches, an ecumenical
group of 340 Christian churches and denominations from around the world.

"The church must not look to youth as the future -- the youth are our
present," he told the Sun yesterday.

"Churches are often in a position where they only tell and give guidance.
But I think we must start listening ," he said.

"We must establish a meaningful dialogue with youth."

Aram will practice what he preaches Monday night when he hosts more than 500
local Armenian youth for a banquet and question period at the Toronto
Armenian Community Centre on Hallcrown Pl. in North York.

He will also celebrate a large mass tomorrow at Toronto's St. Mary Armenian
Apostolic Church.
The bishop's agenda also includes a visit to Cambridge tomorrow night and a
banquet at the St. Paul Armenian Apostolic Church in St. Catharines on
Tuesday.

Sarkis Ghazarian, president of the Toronto church, said Aram's visit is an
important event for the more than 30,000 Armenians living in Ontario.

HE'S A 'REMINDER'

"He reminds us of who we are and where we are from. He's here to put us on
the right track as Armenian Christians," Sarkis said.

In a wide ranging interview, Aram said much of the violence that plagues the
world today is caused by the failure of states and religious leaders to
"build bridges of communication and common values" between different faith
communities.