Vatican News, by Joseph Tulloch: Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, on Tuesday, 25 October, celebrated Mass to mark 30 years of diplomatic relations with Armenia.
He discussed the “special bond” between the two states, and expressed his wish that “your noble nation enjoy the peace which you desire.”
A long history
In his homily, Cardinal Parolin underlined that although the Holy See and Armenia have only enjoyed diplomatic relations since 1992, their relationship has a long history, predating this formalization. Armenia, indeed, was the first country to embrace Christianity, and Armenians remain “a people of deep faith.”
An important component of the relationship between the Holy See and Armenia, the Cardinal said, is the “respectful dialogue” between the Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church, and he emphasised the multiple meetings between the Armenian Patriarch and Pope Francis in recent years.
Only last year, Cardinal Parolin pointed out, the Holy See opened an Apostolic Nunciature in Yerevan, “an important sign of how the Holy See and Armenia are continually developing their relations in a friendly and earnest way in various fields.”
St Gregory of Narek, “Doctor of Peace”
The Cardinal also discussed the figure of St Gregory of Narek, the most beloved figure in the Armenian religious tradition, pointing out that this saint, so central to Armenian national identity, was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Francis in 2015, and added by him to the General Roman Calendar several years later.
Cardinal Parolin also noted Pope Francis’s comment that, as well as a Doctor of the Church, the saint is also “also a ‘Doctor of Peace’”, quoting a famous line from the Armenian saint’s Book of Lamentations: “Do not destroy those who persecute me, but reform them; root out the vile ways of this world, and plant the good in me and them.”
Exchange of letters
On 23 October, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, exchanged messages with his counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan, Foreign Minister of the Armenian Republic.
The Armenian minister noted the strong relations between the two countries, which he said were based on shared Christian values, and expressed his desire to continue to co-operate for peace and sustainable development both in the Caucasus region and internationally. Moreover, he expressed his gratitude for the Pope’s decision to raise St Gregory Narek to the rank of Doctor of the Church, and for the Pope’s principled position on the Armenian genocide.
The Archbishop, meanwhile, also emphasised the strong relations between the two countries, and stressed that the Holy See intends to further strengthen its co-operation with Armenia, aiming in particular to promote justice and peace.
Armenia wonders after.
“And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.” Revelation 13:3.