Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Oct 20 2012

Torkom Manoogian, 93, Armenian Church Leader Dies

October 20, 2012 6:06 pm
By PAUL VITELLO / The New York Times

Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, the longtime leader of the Armenian
orthodox church in the United States and a savvy communicator who used
his pulpit in New York to broaden public awareness of the Armenian
genocide, died on Oct. 12 in Jerusalem. He was 93.

He had been hospitalized since January with cardiac problems, church
officials said in announcing his death.

>From 1966 to 1990, Archbishop Manoogian was primate of the Eastern
Diocese of the Armenian Church in America, the larger of two dioceses
in this country, where most of about 700,000 church members live. (The
Western Diocese comprises Arizona and California.)

A skilled fund-raiser, the archbishop led the final phases of
construction of St. Vartan's Cathedral, the first Armenian cathedral
in North America. A work in progress on the East Side of Manhattan
(Second Avenue at 34th Street) since the 1950s, the cathedral, with a
gilded 120-foot-tall dome, was consecrated in 1968 in a ceremony
attended by the city's civic and religious leaders, including Mayor
John V. Lindsay.

In April 1975, to mark the 60th anniversary of the start of the
Armenian blood bath, Archbishop Manoogian sponsored a series of public
events, including one at Madison Square Garden, that brought new
attention to the mass deaths and the Turkish government's continued
refusal to accept responsibility for them as acts of genocide.

Like many ethnic Armenians in the United States, Archbishop Manoogian
was a descendant of the large Christian population that was expelled
from what is now Turkey in a campaign of ethnic cleansing undertaken
by the Ottoman military between 1915 and 1923. An estimated one
million Armenians were killed or starved to death. The archbishop was
born in an Armenian refugee camp near Baghdad after his parents fled
their Turkish town during the killings.

The Turkish government maintains that many died on both sides of an
ethnic conflict between Armenians and Turks during World War I, but
that Turkish authorities never adopted a program of genocide.
Armenians have long demanded Turkish atonement for what most
historians consider the first organized genocide of the century.

Archbishop Manoogian enlisted the American Catholic Conference, the
American Jewish Committee and the Islamic Center of Washington to join
in demanding that Turkey acknowledge the atrocities. Gov. Hugh L.
Carey of New York signed a proclamation demanding the same.

The historian Barbara W. Tuchman, whose grandfather Henry Morgenthau
Sr. was the United States ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in 1915,
related his eyewitness account of the massacres before a
standing-room-only crowd at the Felt Forum in Madison Square Garden.

Peter Balakian, author of "The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide
and America's Response," said the scale of the 1975 commemoration was
groundbreaking and well timed.

"Holocaust studies and a new American human rights culture had emerged
in the '60s and '70s," he said, and "the archbishop was astute in
seizing that moment" to place the Armenian genocide "within the new
arc of Americans' commemorative memory."

Several days of 60th-anniversary observances culminated in a march
from St. Vartan's Cathedral past the United Nations and into St.
Patrick's Cathedral. There, in his sermon, Archbishop Manoogian
addressed an audience of survivors, their descendants and other

"We are here," he said. "And we were not supposed to be."

Many were involved in organizing the events, but Archbishop Manoogian
was the survivors' spokesman, said Christopher Zakian, a diocese
spokesman and editor of "The Torch Was Passed: The Centennial History
of the Armenian Church of America."

"He was a witness to the genocide," Mr. Zakian said. "And -- not
saying this to diminish his dignity and stature in any way -- he was
also a P.R. genius."

Torkom Manoogian was born on Feb. 16, 1919, one of six children of
Nargiz and Vahan Manoogian. His parents owned a photography studio in
a southeastern Turkish town near the Iraq border. He was sent to
school in Jerusalem at 12 and ordained as a priest in 1939.

He arrived in the United States for the first of several church
assignments in 1946, serving in California and Pennsylvania. He was
primate of the Western Diocese in 1962 and named a bishop the same
year. He became an archbishop in 1966, soon after he arrived in New

After the 1988 earthquake in Armenia, which killed more than 50,000
and left many more homeless, he spearheaded church relief efforts in
the United States.

In 1990, Archbishop Manoogian was appointed patriarch of Jerusalem, a
primarily diplomatic post that he held until his death.

Archbishop Manoogian was an authority on Armenian sacred music and on
the work of the musician-priest Komitas, who became mentally ill
during the Armenian genocide and is considered one of its martyrs. He
died in 1935 in Paris. The archbishop also wrote poetry under the name
Shen Mah and completed an Armenian translation of Shakespeare's

His survivors include a sister, Dzovig Devletian, and two brothers,
Khachig and Sooren, all of whom live in the United States.