Armenian Catholic Church
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The Armenian Catholic Church (Armenian: Հայ Կաթողիկէ Եկեղեցի, romanized: Hay Kat’ołikē Ekełec’i; Latin: Ecclesia armeno-catholica) is one of the Eastern particular churches sui iuris of the Catholic Church. It accepts the leadership of the bishop of Rome, and is therefore in full communion with the universal Catholic Church, including the Latin Church and the 22 other Eastern Catholic Churches. The Armenian Catholic Church is regulated by Eastern canon law, summed up in the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.
Armenian Catholic Church
|Armenian: Հայ Կաթողիկէ Եկեղեցի|
|Orientation||Eastern Christianity (Armenian)|
|Patriarch||Raphaël Bedros XXI Minassian|
|Headquarters||Cathedral of St Elias and St Gregory the Illuminator, Beirut, Lebanon|
|Founder||Abraham Petros I Ardzivian|
Ottoman Empire (modern Armenia)
|Members||150,000 (independent estimates)|
757,726 (2017 Annuario Pontificio)
The head of the sui iuris Armenian Catholic Church is the Armenian Catholic patriarch of Cilicia, whose main cathedral and de facto archiepiscopal see is the Cathedral of Saint Elias and Saint Gregory the Illuminator, in Beirut, Lebanon.
The 451 Council of Chalcedon caused problems for the Armenian Church which formally broke off communion with the Chalcedonian Churches at the 3rd Synod of Dvin in 610. Some Armenian bishops and congregations made attempts to restore communion with the Chalcedonian Churches after the 6th Ecumenical Council of 681. During the Crusades, the Church of the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia entered into union with the Catholic Church, an attempt that did not last. The union was later re-established during the Council of Florence in 1439, but did not have any real effects for centuries.
Some Armenians converted to Catholicism, and in the absence of any specific Armenian Catholic Church in effect became Latins. In Medieval China, Armenians in China were converted to Catholicism by John of Montecorvino in Beijing and there was also an Armenian Franciscan Catholic community in Quanzhou.
In 1740, Abraham-Pierre I Ardzivian, who had earlier become a Catholic, was elected as the patriarch of Sis. Two years later Pope Benedict XIV formally established the Armenian Catholic Church. In 1749, the Armenian Catholic Church built a convent in Bzoummar, Lebanon. During the Armenian genocide in 1915–1918, the Church was scattered in neighboring countries, mainly in Lebanon and Syria.
An Armenian Catholic community was also previously formed by Armenians living in Poland in 1630s. The Armenian bishop of Leopolis (see Armenian Catholic Archeparchy of Lviv), Nicholas (Polish: Mikołaj) Torosowicz had entered into union with the Catholic Church. The community which had been historically centered in Galicia as well as in the pre-1939 Polish borderlands in the east, was expelled after World War II to present-day Poland and now has three parishes: in Gdańsk, in Gliwice and in Warsaw.
Liturgy and practicesEdit
The Armenian Rite liturgy, as celebrated in the Armenian language, developed prior to the post-Chalcedonian interruption of communion and hence is historically common to all Armenian Christians. It is patterned after the directives of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, founder and patron saint of the Armenian Church. It is used by both the Armenian Apostolic Church, by the Armenian Catholic Church, and by a significant number of Eastern Catholic Christians in the Republic of Georgia. Unlike the Byzantine Church, church buildings of the Armenian rite are usually devoid of icons, but like some other Eastern churches have a barrier concealing the priest and the altar from the people during parts of the liturgy. The use of bishop's mitre is reminiscent of the influence Western missionaries once had upon both the miaphysite Orthodox Armenians as well as upon the Armenian Rite Catholics.
Armenian Catholic communitiesEdit
Apart from Armenia, Georgia and Russia, the Armenian Catholic Church is found widely in the Armenian diaspora, notably in Lebanon (where the Armenian Catholic Church is headquartered), Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, France, U.S.A., Canada, Argentina, Uruguay and Australia.
Armenia, Georgia and Eastern EuropeEdit
Armenian Catholics originated in what is today Armenia, Georgia and Eastern Europe. Beginning in the late 1920s, persecution caused many Armenian Catholics to emigrate. In 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Bishop of Rome, Pope John Paul II merged the communities in Georgia and Russia with those in Armenia, creating the new Ordinariate for Catholics of Armenian Rite in Eastern Europe, with its residence in Gyumri. The city was not chosen by chance: most Catholic Armenians live in the northern parts of Armenia. This has become a kind of basis for fence-mending with the coreligionists on the other side of the border.
Today Catholic Armenians of Samtskhe-Javakheti live together in Akhaltsikhe and in the nearby villages, as well as in the regions of Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda. The communities in the last two regions, which are mainly rural, are found in rather distant areas, but the most important link is the historical memory of Catholicism.
A small seminary was established in Gyumri, Armenia, in 1994; there candidates for the priesthood engage in basic studies before moving to the Pontifical College of the Armenians (established 1885) in Rome, where they pursue philosophy and theology.
There are also tens of thousands of Armenian Catholics in Russia, due to the extensive migration from Armenia to Russia that has occurred since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
United States and CanadaEdit
Currently around 1.5 million Armenians live in North America, of which 35,000 belong to the Armenian Catholic Church.
In the 19th century Catholic Armenians from Western Armenia, mainly from the towns and cities of Karin (Erzurum), and from Constantinople and Mardin, traveled to the United States seeking employment. By the end of that century, many survivors of the Hamidian Massacres had concentrated in several U.S. cities, chiefly in New York. Catholic Armenian communities were also founded in New Jersey, in Boston and Detroit, as in Los Angeles and other cities of California.
Catholic Armenian educational organizations were also founded in many cities. In Philadelphia and Boston, colleges were founded by Armenian sisters, educating hundreds of children. Later, a similar college was founded in Los Angeles. The Mechitarists in particular were preoccupied with the problem of preserving Armenian identity. With the support of the Mekhitarists of Venice and Vienna, the Mekhitarian College was founded in Los Angeles.
Many Armenians came to the United States and Canada from the Middle Eastern countries of Lebanon and Syria in the 1970s and in later years. Moreover, many Armenians migrated from Argentina, because of the economic crisis there. At the same time, many Catholic Armenians moved within the United States to San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Miami and Indianapolis.
In 2005, by Pope Benedict XVI's decision, the Catholic Exarchate of the USA and Canada was raised to the status of a diocese. It serviced 35,000 Catholic Armenians in the United States and some 10,000 in Canada. The bishop, or eparch, of the diocese, which has jurisdiction over Canadian and American Catholics who are members of the Armenian Catholic Church, became Manuel Batakian. According to a news release by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops published on Monday, May 23, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI, named Archpriest Mikaël Antoine Mouradian, superior of the Convent of Notre Dame in Bzommar, Lebanon, as the new bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg in New York for Armenian Catholics. The appointment of Lebanon-born Bishop Mouradian was publicized in Washington on May 21 by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.
Next to North America, France holds the largest number of Armenian Catholics outside the Middle East and Eastern Europe. The Eparchy of Sainte-Croix-de-Paris was established in 1960 with Bishop Garabed Armadouni as exarch. Since 1977, the eparchy has been led by Bishop Krikor Gabroyan.
There are some 30,000 Armenian Catholics in the eparchy, the headquarters of which are in Paris. Apart from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Paris, the eparchy has six churches: in Arnouville-lès-Gonesse, Lyon, Marseille, Saint-Chamond, Sèvres and Valence. A community of Mekhitarist Fathers resides in Sèvres and a convent of Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception runs a school in Marseille.
Estimates from the 19th century varied between 40.000 to 150.000  Armenian Catholics worldwide, and 136,400 in 1911
Independent sources estimate the number of Catholic Armenians in the early 21st century at 150,000, with sizable communities in Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Jerusalem, France and the United States.
The Armenian Catholic Church is divided into Archdioceses, Eparchies, Apostolic Exarchates, Ordinariates for the Faithful of the Eastern Rite and Patriarchal Exarchates, each of which has functions similar to a diocese.
The Armenian Catholic Patriarchate of the See of Cilicia is the supreme authority of the Armenian Catholic Church. On 23rd September 2021, Raphaël Bedros XXI Minassian was elected as the Church's new patriarch.
Below is a list of the jurisdictions with their number of adherents.
|Patriarchate of Cilicia, also sole Metropolitanate as Armenian Catholic Archeparchy of Beirut, Lebanon (Patriarchal proper archdiocese)||15,000||12,000||12,500|
|Archeparchy of Aleppo (Halab, Beroa), Syria||15,000||17,000||7,000|
|Archeparchy of Baghdad, Iraq||2,200||2,000||2,400|
|Archeparchy of Istanbul (Constantinople), Turkey||3,700||3,680||2,500|
|Archeparchy of Lviv, Ukraine||N/A||N/A||0|
|Suffragan Eparchies in the Patriarch's Metropolitan Province of Cilicia|
|Alexandria (Iskanderiya) actually in Cairo, Egypt||1,500||1,287||6,500|
|Kameshli ((Al-)Qamishli), Syria||4,303||4,000||3,500|
|Other Eparchies (dioceses), in the diaspora|
|Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg in the United States of America and Canada||34,000||36,000||36,000|
|Eparchy of Sainte-Croix-de-Paris, France||30,000||30,000||35,000|
|Eparchy of Saint Gregory of Narek, Buenos Aires||established in 1989||16,000||16,350|
|Apostolic Exarchates (missionary, directly dependent on the Holy See)|
|Armenian Catholic Apostolic Exarchate of Latin America and Mexico||30,000||12,000||12,000|
|Ordinariates for the Faithful of the Eastern Rites|
|Ordinariate for Romania (Gherla)||N/A||1,000||626|
|Eastern Europe (except Romania) (Gyumri, Armenia)||established in 1991||220,000||618,000|
|Damascus, part of Syria||9,000||8,000||4,500|
|Jerusalem and Amman (Jordan & Holy Land)||N/A||280||500|
Titular Metropolitan ArcheparchiesEdit
Achrida (Ohrid), Pessinus, Traianopolis in Rhodope
Titular Non-metropolitan ArcheparchiesEdit
Chalcedon, Colonia in Armenia, Mardin, Nisibis of the Armenians, Sebaste, Tarsus
Adana, Amida, Anazarbus, Ancyra, Artvin, Cesarea in Cappadocia, Garin, Kharput, Marasc, Melitene, Mush, Prusa, Tokat, Trapezus
The Armenian Catholic Church produces a number of publications:
- Avedik, the official organ of the church
- Avedaper Verelk, a religious, spiritual and cultural publication of St. Gregory Armenian Catholic Church
- Avedaper, a weekly bulletin of the Armenian Catholic dioceses
- Gantch Hrechdagabedin, official publication of the Our Lady of Bzommar Convent
- Massis, a general monthly publication
- Church bulletins
The Armenian Catholic Church has presses that publish many liturgical, spiritual books, publications, pamphlets and translations from general Catholic publications.
Armenian Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity in Gliwice, Poland, built in 1836–38
Interior of the Armenian Church in Stanyslaviv, Ukraine (1763)
St. Gregory the Illuminator – St. Elie Church, Debbas Square, downtown Beirut, Lebanon (1909)
Armenian Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Bzommar, Montevideo, Uruguay
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According to Vatican sources, some 250,000 Armenians belong to the Armenian Catholic Church (others put the number closer to 150,000) with communities in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, Jerusalem and the US.
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