Fr. Archimandrite Bedros Manvelian: “The Ministry of Diaspora has become very close to our hearts and a familiar corner in the Homeland thanks to the Minister!”

The doors of the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia are always open for our compatriots living and working in different corners of the globe. Most of them come to Armenia with the specific purpose of visiting the Ministry and talking to the Minister about many programs and to establish closer ties for cooperation. Recently, the Minister of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia received member of the Congregation of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia (considered one of the spiritual and national centers of the Armenian Diaspora), managing representative of the information office, Fr. Archimandrite Bedros Manvelian. During my interview with Manvelian for Hayern Aysor, I received quite important information about the large-scale activities of the information department of the Catholicosate and am presenting that information to our readers.

Karine Avagyan: Father Bedros, welcome to the Homeland, welcome to the RA Ministry of Diaspora! I believe you are in Armenia with a unique mission.

Father Bedros: First of all, I have come to Armenia because Armenia is the home of all us Armenians. In every home, one has a precious and familiar corner, and that familiar corner for Diaspora Armenians in Armenia is the Ministry of Diaspora. I am very grateful to the Minister of Diaspora, who makes the visit to the Ministry of Diaspora so nice and so close to our hearts with her presence. The main purpose of my visit is to read the message of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia at the solemn opening ceremony of the 10th Pan-Homenetmen Games of the Armenian General Athletic Union (Homenetmen). It is a great honor for me to read the message of the Supreme Patriarch.

Karine Avagyan: Let’s talk about your activities in the fields of journalism and information. What is the main direction and ultimate goal of those fields?

Father Bedros: Since we represent the information office of the Catholicosate, our main mission is to let the sons of our nation know about the activities of the Catholicosate, particularly the whole mission of the Supreme Patriarch. As is known, Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia – one of the national and spiritual centers of the Armenian Diaspora. It is our duty to let our nation know about all those activities. Of course, we also work closely with all media outlets of Armenia, but if you asked me if I am satisfied with the cooperation, I would say I am not.

Karine Avagyan: Excuse me for interrupting, but I would like to ask if you collaborate with all media outlets in Armenia or with only religiously oriented media outlets?

Father Bedros: In reality, we try to send information to all media outlets, except for Internet users or newly established media outlets, but they can follow us on our official website at www.armenianorthodoxchurch.org and take materials from the website. We try to make sure the presses of Armenia and the Catholicosate work together. We hope that cooperation succeeds and is at the maximum. This is one of the ways of bringing Armenia closer to the Diaspora and vice versa. Allow me to say that sometimes Armenia’s media outlets don’t respond to the events that take place in the Diaspora the way they are supposed to. I don’t know why. Perhaps there is a lack of partnership and communication. This mistake needs to be fixed because Armenia and the Diaspora always need to be informed about each other.

Karine Avagyan: Father Bedros, I would like to know your authoritative opinion about the current state of affairs in the Middle East.

Father Bedros: I might not have that much of an authoritative opinion on this issue, but one thing I can say is that, as the spiritual and national center of the Armenian Diaspora and particularly the Armenian communities of the Middle East (we represent one of the major sees of the spiritual-Christian leaders of the Middle East since there are few Christians whose sees and spiritual centers are located in the Middle East), the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia has an important message since it has enormous communities that are important in all senses in almost all countries of the Middle East. Those communities are organized communities, and one of the reasons why is because they are closer to Armenia. Another reason why is because they were formed immediately after the Genocide. The Armenians of those communities love Armenia and the Armenians, are very patriotic and preserve national and spiritual values, but the same can’t be said about the Armenian communities in the West. Those communities, that is, the traditional Armenian communities need to be protected and maintained in the national and spiritual sense. In particular, we need to remember the Syrian-Armenians. Thanks to the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia and Catholicos Aram I, works for restoration are underway with the Syrian-Armenians, and the first consultative meeting was held on that occasion in Antelias a couple of months ago. The issue of the Syrian-Armenians is a pan-Armenian issue, and all organizations in Armenia and the Diaspora need to help the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia be able to help the Syrian-Armenians recover in the most rapid and best way. We all need to unite around such issues.

Karine Avagyan: Father Bedros, we Armenians usually have the stereotype according to which the spiritual has nothing to do with the mundane, even though our centuries-old history proves the opposite. We have had many clergymen who have kept the cross in one hand and the sword in the other and have fought against enemies and died for the nation at moments of catastrophe. What are Armenian clergymen like today?

Father Bedros: To answer this question, we need to start from the history of the Armenian people and the history of the Armenian Church. Armenian clergymen are different from other clergymen. Conveying Christ’s word to the people in Armenian is important for a Christian clergyman. If an Armenian clergyman fails to act as an Armenian clergyman, he must return to the pure and correct origins. The eloquent evidence of a clergyman is Catholicos Aram I. I have heard many people praise him, but there is one phrase that I have heard about the Supreme Patriarch that I can’t forget, and that is the following: Today, there are clergymen of the book, and they are living”. I want to assure that this is the truth, that the best clergymen have lived and acted in not only ancient times and that they have been and will be with the people at the catastrophic moments of our Homeland.

Karine Avagyan: In your opinion, what is the key objective of Armenians of Armenia and the Diaspora to have a powerful Armenia?

Father Bedros: I am a clergyman, but first of all, I am Armenian. I became a clergyman by saying “I am Armenian”. The thoughts, feelings and patriotism of an Armenian maintain and guide an Armenian clergyman in such a way that he is able to carry out great tasks for preservation of the Armenian identity in his spiritual life.

Karine Avagyan: Father Bedros, can living faith become the strong guarantee for making Armenia and Armenians powerful?

Father Bedros: Indeed! If we Armenians didn’t have faith, there would be no Armenia today and we wouldn’t even have this small Homeland. Besides faith, Armenia and the Diaspora need to be strongly connected to each other. The Armenia-Diaspora partnership is extremely important in all spheres of life. What is very important is the stance of the See, that is, the Diaspora must support Armenia and vice versa. If, for some reason, an Armenian living in a particular community of the Diaspora wishes to emigrate, then, as the Supreme Patriarch says, the final destination must be Armenia. The right path to Armenia’s empowerment is to gather in Armenia, become strong and strengthen the Homeland and stand united as one.

Karine Avagyan: You are in the field of information, and a short while ago, you said that the relations between Armenia and the Diaspora in that field are weak and that the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia also gives hope for the strengthening of the relations. When did you establish cooperation with the Ministry and how would you assess the activities of the Ministry?

Father Bedros: I have already stated that the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia has become very close to the hearts of Diaspora Armenians and has become a familiar corner in the Homeland thanks to the Minister of Diaspora. The Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia has been collaborating with the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia since the Ministry’s establishment. The Ministry often disseminates the news of the Catholicosate and spreads extra news about our activities through its news websites, and we are very grateful for that.

Karine Avagyan: Father Bedros, I am also grateful to you for this substantial, interesting  and instructive interview that helped provide me and the readers with a lot of information.

Karine Avagyan

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