Sebouh Chouldjian

Archbishop Sebouh Chouldjian (March 24, 1959 – November 19, 2020;[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] born Haik Sarkis Chouldjian; Armenian: Սեպուհ արքեպիսկոպոս Չուլճեան; Turkish: Başpiskopos Sebuh Çulcuyan; Russian: Архиепископ Сепух Чулджян; also Sebuh, Sepouh, Sepuh, Chuljian, Tchuljian, Chuljyan, Çulciyan) was the metropolite of the Diocese of Gougark of the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church.

His Eminence Archbishop

Sebouh Chouldjian
Archbishop Sebouh Chouldjian
ChurchArmenian Apostolic Church
DioceseDiocese of Gougark
SeeMother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
AppointedJune 3, 1996
Term endedNovember 19, 2020
OrdinationJune 7, 1987
by Archbishop Nerses Pozapalian
ConsecrationJune 15, 1997
by Karekin I
Personal details
Birth nameHaik Sarkis Chouldjian
Born(1959-03-24)March 24, 1959
Malatya, Turkey
DiedNovember 19, 2020(2020-11-19) (aged 61)
Yerevan, Armenia
BuriedPrelacy of the Diocese of Gougark, Vanadzor, Armenia


Haik Chouldjian was born on March 24, 1959 in Malatya, Turkey.[6] He received his primary education at the Nersisian College of Istanbul.[6] In 1969, his family resettled in Soviet Armenia,[6] in the city of Gyumri, where he continued and finished his primary education.[1]

In 1978 he entered the Gevorkian Theological Seminary at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. He was ordained to the diaconate in 1985, by the Grand Sacristan of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Archbishop Hoosik Santourian. He successfully defended his final thesis entitled "The Translation Works of Lukas of Kharpert" in March 1986. Upon his graduation from the seminary he was appointed to serve in the Secretariat of the Pontifical Administration.[1]

He was ordained as a celibate priest by Archbishop Nerses Pozapalian on June 7, 1987, the Feast of Pentecost, and given the priestly name Sebouh. Following his ordination, he continued his service in the Pontifical Administration.[1]

By the appointment of Vazgen I, Catholicos of All Armenians, he served as the Vice Dean of the Gevorkian Theological Seminary at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin in September 1987. In November 1989, he successfully defended his doctoral thesis entitled “The Fast in the Armenian Apostolic Church,” and received the rank of Archimandrite (Vardapet).[1]

In 1990, Vazgen I appointed Father Sebouh to serve as the spiritual pastor of the Armenians of Geneva, Switzerland. He returned to Armenia in 1991 to serve as the Vicar of the Diocese of Shirak.[1]

After Armenia gained independence, vast administrative tasks were placed on the Armenian Church. In the summer of 1993, Father Sebouh worked closely with Archbishop Hovnan Derderian (the then primate of the Diocese of Canada) and Ronald Alepian to organize the first mission of Canadian Youth Mission to Armenia (CYMA). In June 1995, Father Sebouh was appointed to serve as the Director of the Reserve Stewardship Inventory Committee of the Armenian Church. Also in that same year, he was appointed to serve as the Director of the committee responsible for tracking the return and receipt of all previously confiscated church buildings, land and construction projects (most of the churches, buildings, structures and properties belonging to the Church had been seized by the State during the time of the Soviet Regime).[1]

In 1996, he served as the representative of the Armenian Church on the Humanitarian Aid Central Committee of Armenia. On June 3, 1996, by the Pontifical Encyclical of the Karekin I, Catholicos of All Armenians, he was appointed to serve as the Primate of the Diocese of Gougark.[1]

Father Chouldjian was consecrated as Bishop by Catholicos Karekin I on June 15, 1997. He was a member of the Supreme Spiritual Council of the Armenian Church during 2000–2007. On May 18, 2012 he received title of Archbishop.[7]

Archbishop Sebouh Chouldjian served as the Primate of the Diocese of Gougark in Armenia. Chouldjian died on November 19, 2020 due to COVID-19.[1][2]

Co-Patriarch candidacy (2010)Edit

Bishop Sebouh Chouldjian was one of the three candidates for the Co-Patriarch at the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople in 2010.

Mesrop II Mutafyan, the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in July 2008, and was incapable of running the Patriarchate since then.[8] This led the Armenian community to a painful condition of uncertainty.[9] In late 2009, the Patriarchate's Religious Council wrote to the Turkish government seeking permission to elect a coadjutor (co-Patriarch).[10] Three bishops stated that they were going to run for the elections: Bishop Sebouh Chouldjian, Archbishop Karekin Bekchian – the Primate of the Armenian Church Diocese of Germany, and Archbishop Aram Ateshian – the chairman of the Supreme Spiritual Council of the Patriarchate of Istanbul.[11]

Among the main ideas proposed by Bishop Sebouh as a candidate was that the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople should become a spiritual and cultural bridge among Yerevan, Ankara and the Armenian Diaspora.[12][13] He paid particular attention to the importance of dialogue among Armenians and between Turkish and Armenian people.[14][15]

On February 10–17, 2010 Bishop Sebouh visited Istanbul, Turkey to have meetings with the Armenian community of Istanbul. During his meetings and interviews he urged to continue Hrant Dink's way (i.e. dialogue between Armenian and Turkish people) and keep Armenian Patriarchate free from politics.[16][17][18]

On June 29, 2010 the government of Turkey made a decision to reject the request of the Armenian community of Turkey to allow co-patriarch elections.[19] The Turkish Government said that they did not find the elections of either patriarch or co-patriarch reasonable and allowed carrying out only the elections of Patriarchal Locum Tenens.[11] Hours later Archbishop Shahan Svajian – the that time Locum Tenens, resigned and the Spiritual council of the Patriarchate elected Archbishop Aram Ateshian a new Patriarchal Locum Tenens.[10][11] However, according to some experts, the Armenian Community of Turkey was inclined to elect Bishop Sebouh Chouldjian (citizen of Armenia) as their spiritual leader[20] which was disallowed by the Turkish government after unsuccessful negotiations of Armenia-Turkey reconciliation.[11][21]

Later, in his letter to the Armenian Community of Turkey from July 15, 2010 Bishop Sebouh mentioned that interference of Turkey's Government was in contradiction with the adopted new policy on dealing with ethnic minorities. "We continue to hope that this is not the manner of actions of Erdoğan's government, but that of the stationary state sub-agencies, which hamper the democratic development of Turkey with their old mentality".[22] Bishop Sebouh said it was the moral obligation of Archbishop Aram Ateshian to send a new letter to the Turkey's Government with request to hold the elections of Co-Patriarch.[22]

Protests were raised within the Armenian community,[23][24] though it was hardly possible to hold new patriarch elections as long as the current patriarch Mesrop II was alive.[25][26] The "We Want to Elect Our Own Patriarch Initiative" remained active and held silent protests in Armenian churches on Sundays.[27][28][29] Archbishop Sebouh occasionally visited Turkey and expressed his position and opinion on issues warring the community.[30]

Patriarch candidacy (2016)Edit

2016 gave rise to a new[31] wave of demands to eventually elect the head of the Armenian Church in Turkey. In spring 2016 two of the four main candidates, Archbishop Sebouh and Archbishop Karekin Bekdjian urged that there be patriarch election "now". Archbishop Sebouh declared, that should there be election of patriarch there was no obstacle for him to be a candidate. "If the society finds me qualified for solving the problems of Armenian society and the patriarchate, I am ready to serve by considering it as a holy duty," he said.[32] In June, 2016 a group of Turkish Armenians protested in front of the Armenian Patriarchate against being denied the right to replace acting Locum Tenens Aram Ateşyan whose reputation was compromised after his letter to president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, wherein he criticized a recent decision by the German Bundestag recognizing the World War I-era killings of Anatolian Armenians.[33] In October, 2016 the Clerical Assembly of the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey decided to superannuate the Patriarch Mesrob II on the grounds that he has been unable to perform his duty for 7 years and announced that there will be an application for starting the election process.[34][35]

Honors and awardsEdit

Archbishop Sebouh was a member of the Armenian branch of the International Academy of Natural and Social Sciences (since 2000).[citation needed]

He held Fridtjof Nansen Golden Medal (2005),[36] Republic of Armenia Prime Minister's Medal for vast contribution in development of state-church relations (2006),[37] Hayrenik Gold Medal (2010).[38]

On March 24, 2009, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Tigran Sargsyan warmly congratulated Archbishop Sebouh on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of birthday. In his message he emphasized Bishop Sebouh's input in organizing Christian education, revivification of church life and restoration of ethnic and spiritual identity of the Armenian nation.[39]


See also

  • Photo gallery of the meeting of the members of the Organization of Istanbul Armenians with Bishop Sebouh at


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "His Eminence Archbishop Sepouh Chuljian Enters His Eternal Rest". Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.
  2. ^ a b "Primate of Gugark Diocese Archbishop Sebouh Chouldjian dies of Covid-19". Public Radio of Armenia.
  3. ^ "Archbishop Sebouh Chouldjian Passes Away from Covid-19". The Armenian Mirror-Spectator.
  4. ^ "Covid-19 Claims Life of Archbishop Sebouh Chouldjian". Hetq.
  6. ^ a b c "Covid-19 Claims Life of Archbishop Sebouh Chouldjian". Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  7. ^ Համբարձման տոնը Մայր Աթոռում «Համայն հայության եւ Հայրենիքի սիրտն է Մայր Աթոռ Ս. Էջմիածինը», May 18, 2012; Google translation.
  8. ^ "Mutafyan Diagnosed with Early Alzheimer". Asbarez Armenian News. July 31, 2008. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
  9. ^ ZİFLİOĞLU, VERCİHAN (December 3, 2010). "Patriarch Mesrop II, left alone between life and death". Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review. Retrieved January 3, 2011.
  10. ^ a b Sassounian, Harut (July 20, 2010). "Sassounian: Turkey Has No Right to Interfere in Patriarch Election". The Armenian Weekly. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
  11. ^ a b c d Melkonyan, Ruben (July 15, 2010). "ON CURRENT CONDITION OF THE ARMENIAN PATRIARCHATE IN ISTANBUL". Noravank Foundation. Retrieved July 24, 2010.
  12. ^ "We Must Continue What Dink Started: Dialogue with Turkey, Says Bishop". February 15, 2010. Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  14. ^ ÖNDEROĞLU, Erol (February 15, 2010). "Armenian Co-Patriarchate Candidate Çulciyan in Istanbul". Bianet: News in English. Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  15. ^ ZİFLİOĞLU, VERCİHAN (February 18, 2010). "Let's cut out the middlemen, to-be patriarch says". Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review. Retrieved February 20, 2010.
  16. ^ POYRAZ DOĞAN, YONCA (February 13, 2010). "Turkey's Armenians question election process of co-patriarch". Today's Zaman. Retrieved February 13, 2010..
  17. ^ "Bishop Sebouh Chuljyan – Istanbul Patriarchate Must Be "Free of Politics"". Hetq Online. February 19, 2010. Retrieved March 8, 2010..
  18. ^ ERGENÇ, Erdinç (February 14, 2010). "Diyalog kapılarını sevgili Hrant açtı". Sabah. Retrieved April 12, 2011., Google Translation
  19. ^ Gevorgyan, Alisa (July 6, 2010). "No new Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople to be elected". Public Radio of Armenia. Retrieved July 24, 2010.
  20. ^ "Istanbul's Armenian community wishes to see Sebouh Chouldjian as co-patriarch". PanARMENIAN.Net. March 30, 2010. Retrieved October 11, 2010.
  21. ^ Yildirim, Mine & Oehring, Otmar (August 11, 2010). "TURKEY: Why state interference in the election of Chief Rabbi, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Patriarchs?". FORUM 18 NEWS SERVICE, Oslo, Norway. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  22. ^ a b Chouldjian, Bishop Sebouh (July 20, 2010). "Address of His Grace Bishop Sebouh Chouldjian to the Armenian Faithful of Turkey (Գերաշնորհ Տէր Սեպուհ Եպիսկոպոս Չուլճեանի Խօսքը Թուրքիոյ Հայ Հաւատացեալներուն)". Asbarez News. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  23. ^ "Armenian community of Istanbul requires new elections of Co-Patriarch". PanARMENIAN.Net. July 23, 2010. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
  24. ^ ZİFLİOĞLU, VERCİHAN (December 1, 2010). "Turkish Armenians sue Turkey over belated patriarch election". Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  25. ^ ZİFLİOĞLU, VERCİHAN (July 2, 2010). "Istanbul Governor's Office appoints new head of Armenian community". Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review. Retrieved July 24, 2010.
  26. ^ Melkonyan, Ruben (2010), Review of History of the Armenian Community in Istanbul (1920 till present days), Yerevan: VMV-Print, ISBN 978-9939600451, pp. 58–59
  27. ^ GÜL, SİNAN (December 2, 2010). "Armenian community of Turkey appeals to elect its patriarch". Sunday's Zaman. Retrieved June 5, 2011.
  28. ^ "Turkish court rejects Armenians' request to elect patriarch". February 10, 2011. Retrieved June 5, 2011.
  29. ^ YONCA, POYRAZ DOĞAN (June 3, 2011). "550th anniversary of Armenian Patriarchate celebrated, accompanied by silent protest". Today's Zaman. Retrieved June 5, 2011.
  30. ^ "Ոչ ոք իրավունք չունի վնաս հասցնել պոլսահայերի իմիջին"., original publisher: Agos. August 16, 2011. Retrieved January 22, 2012., Google translate
  31. ^ See 2014 status update coverage at Cengiz, Orhan Kemal (February 27, 2014). "Turkey's Armenians in crisis over patriarch". Al-Monitor. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  32. ^ Kuyumciyan, Baruyr (March 17, 2016). "Their Eminences spoke: there should be an election now". AGOS. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  33. ^ "Turkey's Armenians demand right to replace acting patriarch". Hurriyet Daily News. June 23, 2016. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  34. ^ "Mutafyan superannuated, election on the way". AGOS. October 27, 2016. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  35. ^ "Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul to elect a new Patriarch". Mediamax. October 28, 2016. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  36. ^ "Head of Gugark Diocese Awarded Gold Medal After Fridtjof Nansen". Noyan Tapan. January 23, 2005. Retrieved January 2, 2011.
  37. ^ Republic of Armenia Prime Minister's Decision No 406Ա from June 9, 2006 on awarding Republic of Armenia's Prime Minister's Medal
  38. ^ ""Hayrenik" – "Friends of Armenia" Celebrates 18th Anniversary". Western Diocese of the Armenian Church. April 2, 2010. Retrieved April 9, 2011.
  39. ^ "The Address of Republic of Armenia Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan on the occasion of 50th birthday anniversary of Bishop Sebouh Chouldjian, Primate of the Diocese of Gougark (ՀՀ վարչապետ Տիգրան Սարգսյանի շնորհավորական ուղերձը Գուգարաց թեմի հոգեւոր առաջնորդ Տեր Սեպուհ եպիսկոպոս Չուլջյանի ծննդյան 50-ամյակի կապակցությամբ)" (Official News) (in Armenian). Government of the Republic of Armenia. March 23, 2009. Retrieved April 8, 2010.

External linksEdit


News ArticlesEdit

In English
In Turkish
In Russian

Articles and letters by Bishop SebouhEdit


Preceded by
Primate of the Diocese of Gougark