A conference on the theme “Faith and Works” jointly promoted by the Mekhitarist Congregation and the Legation of the Armenian Apostolic Church for Western Europe was held from 7–9 February at San Lazzaro Mekhitarist Monastery on the island of San Lazzaro of Venice.
Organized by the “Home of the Mother of God” Foundation of Yerevan, the initiative was co–presided by His Excellency Monsignor Boghos Levons Zekiyan, Archbishop of Istanbul and Turkey for Armenian Catholics, Pontifical Delegate for the Armenian Mekhitarist Congregation, and by His Eminence Khajag Barsamian, Legate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Western Europe.
Gathering representatives of the Armenian communities throughout the world and from different contexts – ecclesiastical, academic, literature, commerce, art – the conference reflected on issues such as faith in the digital age, new urban situations as a challenge for living one’s faith, and prayer as the source and strength of faith.
Reverend Father Hyacinthe Destivelle, representing the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, read a message of Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Dicastery. In the message, the Cardinal highlighted the ecumenical dimension of the work of the Venerable Mekhitar, an exemplar of “cultural ecumenism”. “He achieved in his work a synthesis, or better […] an ‘exchange of gifts’ or a ‘breath taken with two lungs’, between the monastic sapiential theology of the Armenian tradition and Western systematic theology, between the Armenian humanistic ideal and the Western classical”.
Among other guests, participants included: Monsignor Vahan Hovhannisian, Armenian Bishop of Paris; Monsignor Bagrat Galstanyan, Bishop of the Diocese of Tavush in Armenia; Father Shahe Ananyan, responsible for the ecumenical relations of the Armenian Church (Etchmiadzin); Professor Abraham Terian, theologian; Professor Roberta Ervine of the Armenian Theological Seminary of New York; Professor Rachel Goshgarian, historian of the University of Lafayette, USA; Mr Haroute Baghamian, of the youth association of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem; Dr Zaven Khanjian, Director of the Armenian Missionary Association of America.