In honour of His Holiness Karekin II,
of His Beatitude Sahak II
and of His Beatitude Raphaël Bedros XXI
Domus Sanctae Marthae, 7 October 2021
Your Holiness, Your Beatitudes, Your Eminences, Your Graces, Reverend Fathers,
It is an honour and a joy for me to host all of you for this dinner, such an unique occasion in our relations. Indeed, it is probably the first time that the home of the Bishop of Rome welcomes together the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople and the Armenian Catholic Patriarch of Cilicia.
The uniqueness of this dinner lies also in the fact that His Beatitude Sahak II, elected last year as Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, pays his first visit to Rome, and that, only a few days ago, His Beatitude Raphael Bedros XXI was elected as Patriarch of the See of Cilicia. I avail myself of this opportunity to publicly express, also on behalf of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, my sincere congratulations to both of you. May the Lord not only bestow upon you an abundance of divine blessings, but also give our Churches the grace to respond ever more fully and positively to the unifying action of the Holy Spirit.
Allow me to express my deep gratitude also to His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, and to His Eminence Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, for honouring this dinner with their presence and in particular for their tireless support of the most holy cause of Christian unity.
On this journey towards unity, I would like to thank also His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Representative of the Armenian Apostolic Church to the Holy See, and His Excellency Boghos Levons Zekiyan, Archbishop of Istanbul and Turkey for the Armenian Catholics, for their precious and invaluable commitment. I am also honoured to host His Grace Tatev Hakobyan, Primate of the Rumanian diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and of His Grace Mousheg Babayan, President of the Monastic council of the Mother See of Etchmiadzin.
Your Holiness, your Beatitudes, your Eminences, your Graces, these past years, Apostolic and Catholic Armenians have often gathered around the great Armenian Saint Gregory of Narek. Tonight allow me to place our own gathering under the protection of another eminent light of the Armenian Church to all of Christianity, namely Saint Nerses the Gracious, an illustrious predecessor of Your Holiness. As many of you know, Saint Nerses is one of the Christian figures chosen by UNESCO to be honoured next year.
Saint Nerses, as recalled Pope Francis during his visit to Armenia in 2016, “showed great and extraordinary love for his people and their traditions, as well as a lively concern for other Churches. Tireless in seeking unity, he sought to achieve Christ’s will that those who believe ‘may all be one’ (Jn 17:21)”. Pope Francis also called to mind the summons of Saint Nerses, “Let us make up for our shortcomings in harmony and charity” (Lettere del Signore Nerses Shnorhali, Catholicos degli Armeni, Venice, 1873, 316).
Your Holiness, Your Beatitudes, dear brothers, may these precious words inspire us and all our faithful in our journey towards full unity, with the help of the intercession of all saints, martyrs and doctors of the Armenian Church, our stars in heaven, shining upon us here below and pointing out the path towards full communion.
May your visit and this agapè be a propitious occasion for us to progress along the path of unity for which Our Lord prayed! I raise my glass to all of you, to your distinguished delegations, and to the beloved Armenian Church. Ad multos annos!