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Author Topic: Bishops’ Synod of the Armenian Apostolic Church Commences at Etchmiadzin  (Read 1788 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: September 24, 2013, 08:48:12 PM »

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ETCHMIADZIN — On September 24, in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, presided over the opening of the Bishop’s Synod of the Armenian Church.

The four-day conference, the first of its kind held in nearly 600 years, brought together more than 60 archbishops and bishops from the church dioceses in Armenia and around the world. They are due to review theological issues and ancient rites at the meeting chaired by Catholicos Karekin II. They will also discuss the beatification of some 1.5 million Armenians who were massacred in Ottoman Turkey a hundred years ago in the Armenian Genocide.

http://massispost.com/archives/9607

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« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2013, 09:18:07 PM »

Two questions:

What "ancient rites" are they reviewing? 

Does the Armenian tradition make a distinction between beatification and canonisation as the RC's do, or are they using the word interchangeably? 
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« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2013, 11:00:13 PM »

1.  I have no idea.

2.  I don't think there is any distinction in the Armenian Church.

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« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2013, 11:32:58 PM »

What a model of efficiency this thread has been.  Tongue
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« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2013, 11:40:49 PM »

I have an idea based on EO glorifications of massacres, but what would the glorification of a genocide of 1.5 million people look like? Unless they're just glorifying specific individuals or something of course.
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« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2013, 11:48:38 PM »

As you indicated, it's not completely unprecedented, in that large numbers of martyrs have been glorified before, sometimes into the thousands.  I think there was a thread about this recently in another part of the forum.  However, 1.5 million is a huge number.  I think one of the arguments in favor of it is that many, if not most, of those killed could have saved their lives if they had converted to Islam.  As the Turks went from village to village, they would make that offer but most would decline and be killed or sent on the death marches.  
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« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2013, 08:16:04 AM »

Does the Armenian tradition make a distinction between beatification and canonisation as the RC's do, or are they using the word interchangeably? 
Do any Orthodox churches make that distinction?
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« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2013, 09:52:29 AM »

Two questions:

What "ancient rites" are they reviewing? 

Does the Armenian tradition make a distinction between beatification and canonisation as the RC's do, or are they using the word interchangeably? 
As I understand it, the main topics of discussion are standardizing the texts and rubrics for weddings, baptisms, and funerals. The biggest question, however, is the canonization issue. There hasn't been a uniform understanding of how saints are canonized in the Armenian Church, oh, for about five hundred years now. It's been a huge problem, and supposedly this council will come to some sort of conclusion. Put plainly, the Armenian Church hasn't been canonizing anyone since the 15th century because no one is sure what the procedure is to do it. It sounds strange, but that's the situation.

I have to say, though, I'm pretty uncomfortable, if not slightly against, a mass canonization of victims of the Genocide.
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« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2013, 09:58:56 AM »

I have an idea based on EO glorifications of massacres, but what would the glorification of a genocide of 1.5 million people look like? Unless they're just glorifying specific individuals or something of course.
Didn't we just have a thread on the 20,000 Martyrs of Nikomedia?

How about the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem?

Less known, but historically important (not the least because even the Qur'an testifies to them), the Holy Martyrs of Najran.

It won't be the first mass glorification in Orthodoxy.  Wasn't there a mass glorification of the Neo-Martyrs of Russia?
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« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2013, 10:02:22 AM »

I've heardd of some cases in Poland, Bulgaria, Georgia...
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« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2013, 10:05:34 AM »

As you indicated, it's not completely unprecedented, in that large numbers of martyrs have been glorified before, sometimes into the thousands.  I think there was a thread about this recently in another part of the forum.  However, 1.5 million is a huge number.  I think one of the arguments in favor of it is that many, if not most, of those killed could have saved their lives if they had converted to Islam.  As the Turks went from village to village, they would make that offer but most would decline and be killed or sent on the death marches.  
The main argument in favor of it has nothing to do with whether or not people were offered conversion to Islam (the roundups weren't a discussion, and Ottoman ethnic minority policies didn't formally include going around asking people to convert before a decision was made), but rather that mass canonization is an expedient and useful political tool for the 1915 centenary in two years. As cynical as it sounds, the Catholicoi have said as much.

Honestly, it's amazing how much the Genocide has been politicized, and how much of it has been mythologized (however well-meaning it has been). I mean, the central fact of the entire thing, that 1.5 million people died, is more than likely inflated, yet is treated as absolute and rigid truth. There are many shades of gray here, but it's such an emotional and politicized issue that everything gets treated in blacks and whites.
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« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2013, 10:50:02 AM »

Does the Armenian tradition make a distinction between beatification and canonisation as the RC's do, or are they using the word interchangeably? 
Do any Orthodox churches make that distinction?

No, not to my knowledge. 
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« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2013, 10:55:34 AM »

The biggest question, however, is the canonization issue. There hasn't been a uniform understanding of how saints are canonized in the Armenian Church, oh, for about five hundred years now. It's been a huge problem, and supposedly this council will come to some sort of conclusion. Put plainly, the Armenian Church hasn't been canonizing anyone since the 15th century because no one is sure what the procedure is to do it. It sounds strange, but that's the situation.

It doesn't sound all that strange, but that's just me.  Do you think that, if this council "figures out" the canonisation process, it will open up the path for canonisation for other candidates besides the victims of the Genocide?  Are there individuals for whose canonisation the people have been eager? 

Quote
I have to say, though, I'm pretty uncomfortable, if not slightly against, a mass canonization of victims of the Genocide.

The "group canonisation" doesn't bother me, but I'm always uneasy about "political canonisations", and from your comments, it seems that political considerations have very much entered the discussion.  That's too bad, because while it is "nice" at first, questions inevitably arise in the long run and then you have to figure out how to resolve "issues".
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« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2013, 01:20:13 PM »

The biggest question, however, is the canonization issue. There hasn't been a uniform understanding of how saints are canonized in the Armenian Church, oh, for about five hundred years now. It's been a huge problem, and supposedly this council will come to some sort of conclusion. Put plainly, the Armenian Church hasn't been canonizing anyone since the 15th century because no one is sure what the procedure is to do it. It sounds strange, but that's the situation.

It doesn't sound all that strange, but that's just me.  Do you think that, if this council "figures out" the canonisation process, it will open up the path for canonisation for other candidates besides the victims of the Genocide?  Are there individuals for whose canonisation the people have been eager?
Yes, there's a lot of popular support for Catholicos Vazken I and Khrimian Hayrig (Catholicos Mkrtich I), to name a couple. If this synod gets to the bottom of this, I wouldn't be surprised at all if Vazken Vehapar was canonized very, very quickly.
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« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2013, 01:59:53 PM »

As you indicated, it's not completely unprecedented, in that large numbers of martyrs have been glorified before, sometimes into the thousands.  I think there was a thread about this recently in another part of the forum.  However, 1.5 million is a huge number.  I think one of the arguments in favor of it is that many, if not most, of those killed could have saved their lives if they had converted to Islam.  As the Turks went from village to village, they would make that offer but most would decline and be killed or sent on the death marches.  
The main argument in favor of it has nothing to do with whether or not people were offered conversion to Islam (the roundups weren't a discussion, and Ottoman ethnic minority policies didn't formally include going around asking people to convert before a decision was made), but rather that mass canonization is an expedient and useful political tool for the 1915 centenary in two years. As cynical as it sounds, the Catholicoi have said as much.

Honestly, it's amazing how much the Genocide has been politicized, and how much of it has been mythologized (however well-meaning it has been). I mean, the central fact of the entire thing, that 1.5 million people died, is more than likely inflated, yet is treated as absolute and rigid truth. There are many shades of gray here, but it's such an emotional and politicized issue that everything gets treated in blacks and whites.
So it not accurately 1.5 million, and this is a political move?
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« Reply #15 on: September 25, 2013, 08:21:30 PM »

As you indicated, it's not completely unprecedented, in that large numbers of martyrs have been glorified before, sometimes into the thousands.  I think there was a thread about this recently in another part of the forum.  However, 1.5 million is a huge number.  I think one of the arguments in favor of it is that many, if not most, of those killed could have saved their lives if they had converted to Islam.  As the Turks went from village to village, they would make that offer but most would decline and be killed or sent on the death marches.  
The main argument in favor of it has nothing to do with whether or not people were offered conversion to Islam (the roundups weren't a discussion, and Ottoman ethnic minority policies didn't formally include going around asking people to convert before a decision was made), but rather that mass canonization is an expedient and useful political tool for the 1915 centenary in two years. As cynical as it sounds, the Catholicoi have said as much.

Honestly, it's amazing how much the Genocide has been politicized, and how much of it has been mythologized (however well-meaning it has been). I mean, the central fact of the entire thing, that 1.5 million people died, is more than likely inflated, yet is treated as absolute and rigid truth. There are many shades of gray here, but it's such an emotional and politicized issue that everything gets treated in blacks and whites.
So it not accurately 1.5 million, and this is a political move?
1. Contemporary scholarship is casting doubt on the accuracy of the 1.5 million number, yes. It's still in the very high six-figures at the very least, but is probably not 1.5 million. We'll never know for sure, but there is more than credible evidence to suggest the estimation has long been on the high side. I'm not saying this in any way to cast doubt on what happened, or to minimize its impact, but to suggest that if we're going to talk about the severity of the Genocide, we should at least be honest about how many people actually died.

2. Both Catholicoi Karekin and Aram are involved, and in the pictures of the gathering they're flanking Serzh Sargsyan. You don't even have to read the politicized statements all parties are putting out to know the score.
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« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2013, 08:28:31 PM »

As you indicated, it's not completely unprecedented, in that large numbers of martyrs have been glorified before, sometimes into the thousands.  I think there was a thread about this recently in another part of the forum.  However, 1.5 million is a huge number.  I think one of the arguments in favor of it is that many, if not most, of those killed could have saved their lives if they had converted to Islam.  As the Turks went from village to village, they would make that offer but most would decline and be killed or sent on the death marches.  
The main argument in favor of it has nothing to do with whether or not people were offered conversion to Islam (the roundups weren't a discussion, and Ottoman ethnic minority policies didn't formally include going around asking people to convert before a decision was made),

Are you saying that the offers to convert to Islam were not made, and that those who converted to Islam were not spared?  If that is the case, then you are literally the first Armenian I have encountered who makes that claim.  If you listen to, or read, the stories of the survivors, that is a detail that is so frequently presented, it is an undeniable fact that conversion to Islam was often presented as a way to save oneself. It may not have been official Ottoman policy, but no one knows.  In any event, it frequently happened.  The effect of Armenians converting to Islam was that they were Turkified, and thus presented less of a threat.  Thus the offer to convert as an alternative to being killed was often made.  This happened in my own family:  My grandmother's uncle had his throat slit in front of his wife and children when he refused to convert to Islam, and his wife and children were sent on the death marches.

Now I have no doubt that there are political and nationalist reasons involved in the move to canonize the victims of the Genocide.  But that doesn't take away the fact that many of the victims like my great great uncle, literally died as martyrs after refusing to renounce Christ.  And if you ask most ordinary Armenians why they should be canonized, they'll will give you a reason along those lines, rather than the sort of reasons that may be motivating some political and ecclesiastical leaders.
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« Reply #17 on: September 25, 2013, 08:52:16 PM »

As you indicated, it's not completely unprecedented, in that large numbers of martyrs have been glorified before, sometimes into the thousands.  I think there was a thread about this recently in another part of the forum.  However, 1.5 million is a huge number.  I think one of the arguments in favor of it is that many, if not most, of those killed could have saved their lives if they had converted to Islam.  As the Turks went from village to village, they would make that offer but most would decline and be killed or sent on the death marches.  
The main argument in favor of it has nothing to do with whether or not people were offered conversion to Islam (the roundups weren't a discussion, and Ottoman ethnic minority policies didn't formally include going around asking people to convert before a decision was made),

Are you saying that the offers to convert to Islam were not made, and that those who converted to Islam were not spared?  If that is the case, then you are literally the first Armenian I have encountered who makes that claim.  If you listen to, or read, the stories of the survivors, that is a detail that is so frequently presented, it is an undeniable fact that conversion to Islam was often presented as a way to save oneself. It may not have been official Ottoman policy, but no one knows.  In any event, it frequently happened.  The effect of Armenians converting to Islam was that they were Turkified, and thus presented less of a threat.  Thus the offer to convert as an alternative to being killed was often made.  This happened in my own family:  My grandmother's uncle had his throat slit in front of his wife and children when he refused to convert to Islam, and his wife and children were sent on the death marches.

Now I have no doubt that there are political and nationalist reasons involved in the move to canonize the victims of the Genocide.  But that doesn't take away the fact that many of the victims like my great great uncle, literally died as martyrs after refusing to renounce Christ.  And if you ask most ordinary Armenians why they should be canonized, they'll will give you a reason along those lines, rather than the sort of reasons that may be motivating some political and ecclesiastical leaders.

What I'm saying is that it wasn't necessarily a blanket policy to offer conversion first. Did it happen in many cases? Yes. Surely it did. And there were people who converted who were spared. Anyone who has been to Turkey in the last few decades invariably comes back with a story about meeting someone with hidden Armenian ancestry in Eastern Anatolia. But let's not pretend each and every person who was rounded up and taken to the desert was ever posed with a choice of any kind. Ottoman ethnic policy was meticulously planned, and Armenians were not the only people targeted. The point was to eliminate minorities, and the overwhelming way that was done was deportation and/or death. I'm sure there are a lot of stories about offers for conversion, and I've certainly read plenty of them. But that wasn't the general experience across the board, and that's not the premise under which these canonizations are being considered.

With the Genocide, we have to learn to consider oral accounts separately from the documentary evidence, and give them a bit more scrutiny. Not all evidence is created equal. We all have stories from our own families about what happened, and these things are certainly an important and legitimate record of events on their own terms. At the same time, oral accounts are often distorted over time, or even understood or transmitted incorrectly. Many of these stories were not even told until decades after they occurred. In my community, there was a survivor who wrote several books about his firsthand experience during the Genocide. Never mind that he was literally a toddler at the time. I'm sure some portion of his stories were true, but he was not possibly old enough to remember things in such detail. We must remember that oral history is a notoriously tricky thing to navigate, and people tend to assume elements of other people's stories, or take individual experiences and project them onto the broader communal experience. And, unfortunately, so much of what we understand about the Genocide comes from these survivor memoirs, or from the stories passed on through our families. Emotions run high, and it's been my experience that the general community tends to react negatively to empirical evidence being uncovered by researchers who are delving into Ottoman archives for the first time, who are fundamentally revising what we understand about this horrific event.

My point is that we cannot know every single one of the people who died was like your uncle. We have no way of knowing if all were believers, or of understanding the exact circumstances surrounding each death. There's just no way of coming to any kind of definitive conclusion. Canonizing a likely inaccurate, abstract number of unnamed martyrs has unquestionable political utility, and the kind of politicized attention being given to the topic is certainly worthy of at least a modicum of scrutiny.
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« Reply #18 on: September 25, 2013, 09:01:10 PM »

But let's not pretend each and every person who was rounded up and taken to the desert was ever posed with a choice of any kind. Ottoman ethnic policy was meticulously planned, and Armenians were not the only people targeted. The point was to eliminate minorities, and the overwhelming way that was done was deportation and/or death.
Muslim minorities didn't get the same treatment.  Given a choice or not, the Armenians (and Assyrians and Greeks) were killed because they kissed crosses and did not bow to Mecca.
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« Reply #19 on: September 26, 2013, 12:31:52 AM »

But let's not pretend each and every person who was rounded up and taken to the desert was ever posed with a choice of any kind. Ottoman ethnic policy was meticulously planned, and Armenians were not the only people targeted. The point was to eliminate minorities, and the overwhelming way that was done was deportation and/or death.
Muslim minorities didn't get the same treatment.  Given a choice or not, the Armenians (and Assyrians and Greeks) were killed because they kissed crosses and did not bow to Mecca.
Muslim minorities?

I guess I just don't understand what you're trying to say here.
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« Reply #20 on: September 26, 2013, 08:39:46 AM »

But let's not pretend each and every person who was rounded up and taken to the desert was ever posed with a choice of any kind. Ottoman ethnic policy was meticulously planned, and Armenians were not the only people targeted. The point was to eliminate minorities, and the overwhelming way that was done was deportation and/or death.
Muslim minorities didn't get the same treatment.  Given a choice or not, the Armenians (and Assyrians and Greeks) were killed because they kissed crosses and did not bow to Mecca.
Muslim minorities?

I guess I just don't understand what you're trying to say here.

I.E. The Kurds, Arabs, and etc. were not massacred as the Christians were. The Armenians may not have been the only ones targeted, but they, along with the Assyrians and Greeks, were still killed for their Christian faith, which IMO is what gives them the right to be called Martyrs.
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« Reply #21 on: September 26, 2013, 08:40:48 AM »

But let's not pretend each and every person who was rounded up and taken to the desert was ever posed with a choice of any kind. Ottoman ethnic policy was meticulously planned, and Armenians were not the only people targeted. The point was to eliminate minorities, and the overwhelming way that was done was deportation and/or death.
Muslim minorities didn't get the same treatment.  Given a choice or not, the Armenians (and Assyrians and Greeks) were killed because they kissed crosses and did not bow to Mecca.

Weren't the Kurds treated similarly shortly afterward?
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« Reply #22 on: September 26, 2013, 10:47:51 AM »

But let's not pretend each and every person who was rounded up and taken to the desert was ever posed with a choice of any kind. Ottoman ethnic policy was meticulously planned, and Armenians were not the only people targeted. The point was to eliminate minorities, and the overwhelming way that was done was deportation and/or death.
Muslim minorities didn't get the same treatment.  Given a choice or not, the Armenians (and Assyrians and Greeks) were killed because they kissed crosses and did not bow to Mecca.

Weren't the Kurds treated similarly shortly afterward?
Yes. There were Kurdish deportations and massacres in 1916 and 1917.
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« Reply #23 on: September 26, 2013, 10:57:56 AM »

But let's not pretend each and every person who was rounded up and taken to the desert was ever posed with a choice of any kind. Ottoman ethnic policy was meticulously planned, and Armenians were not the only people targeted. The point was to eliminate minorities, and the overwhelming way that was done was deportation and/or death.
Muslim minorities didn't get the same treatment.  Given a choice or not, the Armenians (and Assyrians and Greeks) were killed because they kissed crosses and did not bow to Mecca.
Muslim minorities?

I guess I just don't understand what you're trying to say here.

I.E. The Kurds, Arabs, and etc. were not massacred as the Christians were. The Armenians may not have been the only ones targeted, but they, along with the Assyrians and Greeks, were still killed for their Christian faith, which IMO is what gives them the right to be called Martyrs.
A number of the Christians were Kurds, Arabs, etc.

The Kurd deportation-meaning that affecting their Muslim majority-could be seen as a strategic move: the tribesmen were unruly, in perpetual rebellion, in a front made up of ungovernable territory.  The Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians etc. were peaceful villagers and city dwellers.
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« Reply #24 on: September 26, 2013, 08:29:45 PM »

^Thank you.

The situation of the Kurds during WWI cannot be compared with what happened to the Armenians.  Kurds still populate Eastern Anatolia.  The Armenians vanished.

Although there were some areas where the Kurds were rebellious and the Turks responded with repressive measures, including deportation, there were other areas where the Kurds cooperated with the Turks and participated in the killing of Armenians:

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Turkey’s Kurds Seek Forgiveness
For 1915 Armenian Tragedy

In Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeastern province of Diyarbakir, global diplomacy does not figure in the calculations of Abdullah Demirbas, the mayor of the city’s ancient Sur district. A maze of narrow cobbled streets lined with decrepit stone houses, Sur used to be known as the “neighborhood of the infidels” because of the large number of Armenians, Syrian Orthodox Christians and Jews who once lived there. Since being twice elected to office on the ticket of Turkey's largest pro-Kurdish party, Peace and Democracy (BDP), Demirbas, a stocky former schoolteacher with an easy smile, has thrown himself wholeheartedly into making amends for the past.

“As Kurds, we also bear responsibility for the suffering of the Armenians,” he told Al-Monitor over glasses of ruby-red tea. “We are sorry, and we need to prove it.” As a first step, Demirbas launched free Armenian-language classes two years ago at the municipality offices. “They were an instant hit,” Demirbas said. Many of those who enrolled were thought to be “hidden Armenians” or the descendants of those who converted to Islam to survive.


Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/09/turkey-kurds-seek-armenian-forgiveness.html#ixzz2g36Af1bV

The above article is worth reading.  It quotes Ambassador Morgenthau's description of what the Kurd's did to the Armenians and other Christians during the Genocide.
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« Reply #25 on: September 26, 2013, 09:16:58 PM »

^Thank you.

The situation of the Kurds during WWI cannot be compared with what happened to the Armenians.  Kurds still populate Eastern Anatolia.  The Armenians vanished.

Although there were some areas where the Kurds were rebellious and the Turks responded with repressive measures, including deportation, there were other areas where the Kurds cooperated with the Turks and participated in the killing of Armenians:

Quote
Turkey’s Kurds Seek Forgiveness
For 1915 Armenian Tragedy

In Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeastern province of Diyarbakir, global diplomacy does not figure in the calculations of Abdullah Demirbas, the mayor of the city’s ancient Sur district. A maze of narrow cobbled streets lined with decrepit stone houses, Sur used to be known as the “neighborhood of the infidels” because of the large number of Armenians, Syrian Orthodox Christians and Jews who once lived there. Since being twice elected to office on the ticket of Turkey's largest pro-Kurdish party, Peace and Democracy (BDP), Demirbas, a stocky former schoolteacher with an easy smile, has thrown himself wholeheartedly into making amends for the past.

“As Kurds, we also bear responsibility for the suffering of the Armenians,” he told Al-Monitor over glasses of ruby-red tea. “We are sorry, and we need to prove it.” As a first step, Demirbas launched free Armenian-language classes two years ago at the municipality offices. “They were an instant hit,” Demirbas said. Many of those who enrolled were thought to be “hidden Armenians” or the descendants of those who converted to Islam to survive.


Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/09/turkey-kurds-seek-armenian-forgiveness.html#ixzz2g36Af1bV

The above article is worth reading.  It quotes Ambassador Morgenthau's description of what the Kurd's did to the Armenians and other Christians during the Genocide.
btw, before the war the estimates of Armenians and Muslim Kurds were about equal in Anatolia.  In sheer numbers, the Ottoman genocide of Armenians differed from Ottoman atrocities against the Muslim Kurds.
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« Reply #26 on: September 26, 2013, 10:05:10 PM »

Muslim minorities didn't get the same treatment.  Given a choice or not, the Armenians (and Assyrians and Greeks) were killed because they kissed crosses and did not bow to Mecca.

I recall reading something similar about Georgian martyrs crossing a bridge and either spitting on the icons or being decapitated. There were apparently thousands of them. I know that Armenians and Georgians don't get along at all, but I hope that they are together with God for these sufferings at the hands of Islam.
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« Reply #27 on: September 30, 2013, 10:03:48 PM »

I have heard that they decided to start a process toward canonizing the Genocide Martyrs.  Does anyone know any of the details?
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« Reply #28 on: September 30, 2013, 10:11:42 PM »

I found this article on the synod:

http://asbarez.com/114512/bishops-synod-considers-canonization-of-genocide-victims/

From the article:

Quote
On September 24, the Synod discussed the re-establishment of the tradition of canonization in the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church, and specifically focused on the issue of canonization of the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Co-Chairmen of the Sainthood Committee, Archbishop Sepuh Sargsyan, and Archbishop Yeznik Petrosyan, presented reports on the results of the works and study concerning this issue.

Following lengthy discussion by the Synod on the reports concerning the canonization of the Armenian Genocide victims, the Synod made the following decisions:

The collective canonization of the victims of the Armenian Genocide was adopted in principle, and the Sainthood Committee was assigned the task of continuing to study the individual and collective canonization of victims, for presentation and approval at the next meeting. The Sainthood Committee was also assigned the task of reviewing the canon and ritual of canonization, for presentation and approval at the next meeting.

Photo of the synod:



That has to be the most veghars you'll ever see in one place.   Smiley
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« Reply #29 on: October 01, 2013, 12:27:07 AM »

I've got veghar envy!  Tongue

Does the mention of a review of "the ritual of canonization" mean that there was always an Armenian rite for canonising saints, but the uncertainty was over the exact protocol for how to go from, to put it crudely, "dead person" to "saint"?  For some reason, I just presumed it was an ignorance of both the protocol and the ritual. 
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« Reply #30 on: October 01, 2013, 12:39:28 AM »

Does the mention of a review of "the ritual of canonization" mean that there was always an Armenian rite for canonising saints, but the uncertainty was over the exact protocol for how to go from, to put it crudely, "dead person" to "saint"?

As far as the EO is concerned, I don't think we have a special "ritual". IIRC a solemn last memorial is held for the Saint to be, where the Church prays for his/her soul on the eve of their canonization. Then, on their assigned feast day, the first Vigil and Liturgy is celebrated when we officially start asking them to pray for us, instead of us praying for them. A solemn proclamation by the Patriarch/Holy Synod would also be read on such an occasion.

I've also heard it said that the funeral of each Christian is basically our only canonization ritual, because then we pray: "With the Saints give rest, O Lord". 
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« Reply #31 on: October 01, 2013, 12:41:14 AM »

I've got veghar envy!  Tongue

Does the mention of a review of "the ritual of canonization" mean that there was always an Armenian rite for canonising saints, but the uncertainty was over the exact protocol for how to go from, to put it crudely, "dead person" to "saint"?  For some reason, I just presumed it was an ignorance of both the protocol and the ritual. 

I really don't know.  My priest once said that in the old days, people became saints starting with local veneration, and they would be added to the Armenian calendar after the veneration became popular enough.  In other words, it was not really a formal process like you see in the Vatican.  The Armenian Church would just over time add people to the calendar after their veneration spread among the people.  It was sort of "from the bottom up," rather than "top down."  So I think when we got into the modern era, we really didn't have a protocol or ritual for it.  

I don't know.  I'm just remembering what my priest said, and I may not be recalling it correctly.   Smiley
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« Reply #32 on: October 01, 2013, 03:35:05 AM »

Does the mention of a review of "the ritual of canonization" mean that there was always an Armenian rite for canonising saints, but the uncertainty was over the exact protocol for how to go from, to put it crudely, "dead person" to "saint"?

As far as the EO is concerned,

EOs aren't concerned.
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« Reply #33 on: October 01, 2013, 06:01:39 AM »

Does the mention of a review of "the ritual of canonization" mean that there was always an Armenian rite for canonising saints, but the uncertainty was over the exact protocol for how to go from, to put it crudely, "dead person" to "saint"?

As far as the EO is concerned,

EOs aren't concerned.

Thanks for pointing that out!  Kiss
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« Reply #34 on: October 01, 2013, 10:34:31 AM »

As far as the EO is concerned, I don't think we have a special "ritual". IIRC a solemn last memorial is held for the Saint to be, where the Church prays for his/her soul on the eve of their canonization. Then, on their assigned feast day, the first Vigil and Liturgy is celebrated when we officially start asking them to pray for us, instead of us praying for them. A solemn proclamation by the Patriarch/Holy Synod would also be read on such an occasion.

Our traditional practice, as far as I can determine, is simply the publication of a decree by the Synod that a particular individual is a saint, details on how they are to be commemorated during services, the date of their memorial, etc.  The last such canonisation was in 1948.  More recently (~2000?), a saint was canonised in India with something along the lines of what you describe above, though I haven't been able to track down the text of the rite. 
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« Reply #35 on: October 01, 2013, 10:38:06 AM »

I really don't know.  My priest once said that in the old days, people became saints starting with local veneration, and they would be added to the Armenian calendar after the veneration became popular enough.  In other words, it was not really a formal process like you see in the Vatican.  The Armenian Church would just over time add people to the calendar after their veneration spread among the people.  It was sort of "from the bottom up," rather than "top down."  So I think when we got into the modern era, we really didn't have a protocol or ritual for it.  

I don't know.  I'm just remembering what my priest said, and I may not be recalling it correctly.   Smiley

No, that sounds about right.  My only question would be how it was that the Church "forgot" the procedure for canonising saints (at least that is how I understood previous posts) if it really is just a grassroots phenomenon that gets a rubber stamp from the Synod. 
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« Reply #36 on: October 01, 2013, 09:47:20 PM »

I got the following from an e-mail.  It's about the discussions on canonizing the Genocide Martyrs.  It expressed what I felt, so I am quoting it with the writer's permission:

Quote
They are also considering declaring our holy martyrs of the Armenian Genocide saints of the church.  This is something that our people have realized decades ago.  I have been praying “to” my blessed grandmother as well as her ancestors for 20 years.  This will stop the ridiculous hokihankesd we hold every year for them.  As my priest once said, “they do not need us.”  So true.  We need their prayers, they do not need our prayers for their salvation.  When you are killed for your faith according to the scriptures you have passed from this world into the heavenly Jerusalem.  Read St. Paul, St. John the Evangelist.  This is obvious.  The only reason we have not “canonized” them 20 years ago when Dr. Vigen Guroian suggested it is because of political concerns.  We would have to stop using their deaths as editorial fodder, because our church would have said that they have already received their reward.  Getting their home back from Yozgut is immaterial to them.

"Hokihankesd" is a service for the repose of souls.  I look forward to the day when we will no longer be holding hokihankesd for the Martyrs, but will instead be having a service asking for them to pray for us.  
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« Reply #37 on: October 01, 2013, 10:00:06 PM »


Despite how little I know about them, the Armenian Church always seem so neat. And not just because of the cool outfits.
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« Reply #38 on: October 01, 2013, 11:55:45 PM »

It's really a no-win to argue against this canonization, but I can't help but continue to question it. Not just because we simply cannot tell how many of them were actually believers and how many of them actually died in circumstances that can be considered martyrdom (not to mention how many there actually were), but also because the political questions at play here are problematic at best. If the 100th anniversary of 1915 wasn't two years away, and if Turkey had actually recognized the Genocide by now, we wouldn't be talking about canonization in 2013. The Genocide martyrs are being used for their political utility, not for their actual sanctity. The Catholicoi holding a synod of bishops with Serzh Sargsyan front and center is pretty much all you need to know. Saints should be saints on their own accord and in their own time, not just because it's politically prudent to decide they should be saints in time for the centenary. Call me cynical, but I have, and will continue to have huge reservations about this.

Should they be saints? Yes, many, if not all should be if the circumstances warrant. But they should become so only in a way that honestly and transparently takes into account the accurate historical record, which may take more time than the church has to canonize them in time for April 24, 2015. Let's do this correctly and on its own timeline, not just what seems politically prudent for the Republic of Armenia and the respective Catholicosates at the present moment.

Also, calling the annual April 24th Hokehankisd "ridiculous" is ridiculous in itself. Especially when just about all of them are held with survivors and/or the children of survivors present.
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« Reply #39 on: October 02, 2013, 12:09:34 AM »

I really don't know.  My priest once said that in the old days, people became saints starting with local veneration, and they would be added to the Armenian calendar after the veneration became popular enough.  In other words, it was not really a formal process like you see in the Vatican.  The Armenian Church would just over time add people to the calendar after their veneration spread among the people.  It was sort of "from the bottom up," rather than "top down."  So I think when we got into the modern era, we really didn't have a protocol or ritual for it.  

I don't know.  I'm just remembering what my priest said, and I may not be recalling it correctly.   Smiley

No, that sounds about right.  My only question would be how it was that the Church "forgot" the procedure for canonising saints (at least that is how I understood previous posts) if it really is just a grassroots phenomenon that gets a rubber stamp from the Synod. 

The following might be somewhat helpful, and is from an essay by the priest and noted liturgical scholar and translator Fr. Arshen Aivazian entitled The Question of Modern Liturgical Reform in the Armenian Church: A Clergyman's Perspective, which was published in the scholarly anthology Worship Traditions in Armenia and the Neighboring Christian East, Roberta Ervine, Ed., St. Vladimir Seminary Press, 2006:

Quote
In the current calendar the most recent saint is Grigor of Tatew' from the fourteenth-fifteenth centuries. What message are we giving the faithful of the twenty-first century by effectively telling them that the Church has not produced from its ranks even one model of faith in six hundred years? [...] The list is very long of saintly people who should be considered for canonization. Part of the problem here is that there is not a clear process of canonization in the Armenian Church that I am aware of, but this is another subject beyond the scope of this paper.

Attached to this final sentence is the following footnote, which I think is illuminating to this discussion:

Quote
17. In the last two decades or so much has been said about the canonization of the victims of the Armenian Genocide. In a politically and emotionally charged atmosphere it would be difficult to argue against the canonization of the victims of the Genocide, many of whom were, in life and death, marvelous examples of faith. There are many written accounts to bear witness to this fact. However, to canonize the entire estimated one and a half million victims as saints would be wrong, since undoubtedly there were among the victims many non-believers as well.
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« Reply #40 on: October 02, 2013, 02:01:18 AM »

And yet in December we commemorate the 20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia, and before Lent we commemorate the 1036 Companions of St. Vartan.  Do we know for sure the condition of the souls of each and every one of them at the moment of their death?  Of course not.  But we trust in God to sort that out, while allowing the group as a whole to be venerated. This is because the circumstances under which they died indicate that they were killed because they were Christians.  Mass canonizations have precedence in our Tradition.  This is not something entirely new.

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« Reply #41 on: October 02, 2013, 01:09:07 PM »

As you indicated, it's not completely unprecedented, in that large numbers of martyrs have been glorified before, sometimes into the thousands.  I think there was a thread about this recently in another part of the forum.  However, 1.5 million is a huge number.  I think one of the arguments in favor of it is that many, if not most, of those killed could have saved their lives if they had converted to Islam.  As the Turks went from village to village, they would make that offer but most would decline and be killed or sent on the death marches.  
The main argument in favor of it has nothing to do with whether or not people were offered conversion to Islam (the roundups weren't a discussion, and Ottoman ethnic minority policies didn't formally include going around asking people to convert before a decision was made),

Are you saying that the offers to convert to Islam were not made, and that those who converted to Islam were not spared?  If that is the case, then you are literally the first Armenian I have encountered who makes that claim.  If you listen to, or read, the stories of the survivors, that is a detail that is so frequently presented, it is an undeniable fact that conversion to Islam was often presented as a way to save oneself. It may not have been official Ottoman policy, but no one knows.  In any event, it frequently happened.  The effect of Armenians converting to Islam was that they were Turkified, and thus presented less of a threat.  Thus the offer to convert as an alternative to being killed was often made.  This happened in my own family:  My grandmother's uncle had his throat slit in front of his wife and children when he refused to convert to Islam, and his wife and children were sent on the death marches.

Now I have no doubt that there are political and nationalist reasons involved in the move to canonize the victims of the Genocide.  But that doesn't take away the fact that many of the victims like my great great uncle, literally died as martyrs after refusing to renounce Christ.  And if you ask most ordinary Armenians why they should be canonized, they'll will give you a reason along those lines, rather than the sort of reasons that may be motivating some political and ecclesiastical leaders.

What I'm saying is that it wasn't necessarily a blanket policy to offer conversion first. Did it happen in many cases? Yes. Surely it did. And there were people who converted who were spared. Anyone who has been to Turkey in the last few decades invariably comes back with a story about meeting someone with hidden Armenian ancestry in Eastern Anatolia. But let's not pretend each and every person who was rounded up and taken to the desert was ever posed with a choice of any kind. Ottoman ethnic policy was meticulously planned, and Armenians were not the only people targeted. The point was to eliminate minorities, and the overwhelming way that was done was deportation and/or death. I'm sure there are a lot of stories about offers for conversion, and I've certainly read plenty of them. But that wasn't the general experience across the board, and that's not the premise under which these canonizations are being considered.

With the Genocide, we have to learn to consider oral accounts separately from the documentary evidence, and give them a bit more scrutiny. Not all evidence is created equal. We all have stories from our own families about what happened, and these things are certainly an important and legitimate record of events on their own terms. At the same time, oral accounts are often distorted over time, or even understood or transmitted incorrectly. Many of these stories were not even told until decades after they occurred. In my community, there was a survivor who wrote several books about his firsthand experience during the Genocide. Never mind that he was literally a toddler at the time. I'm sure some portion of his stories were true, but he was not possibly old enough to remember things in such detail. We must remember that oral history is a notoriously tricky thing to navigate, and people tend to assume elements of other people's stories, or take individual experiences and project them onto the broader communal experience. And, unfortunately, so much of what we understand about the Genocide comes from these survivor memoirs, or from the stories passed on through our families. Emotions run high, and it's been my experience that the general community tends to react negatively to empirical evidence being uncovered by researchers who are delving into Ottoman archives for the first time, who are fundamentally revising what we understand about this horrific event.

My point is that we cannot know every single one of the people who died was like your uncle. We have no way of knowing if all were believers, or of understanding the exact circumstances surrounding each death. There's just no way of coming to any kind of definitive conclusion. Canonizing a likely inaccurate, abstract number of unnamed martyrs has unquestionable political utility, and the kind of politicized attention being given to the topic is certainly worthy of at least a modicum of scrutiny.

It doesn't have to be a political move. (Though God knows politics have always been influenced church life.) The Russian Orthodox Church glorified the New Martyrs and Confessors of Rus' as a group, but has through the years gathered information about individual martyrs and confessors and one by one approved them for veneration. That requires setting up a standing, long-term commission of some sort of course though...

It's been nearly a 100 years. Even the Copts only wait 50 to glorify their saints :-). A group glorification doesn't have to be a blanket approval of every single person who died in the Genocide...
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« Reply #42 on: February 06, 2014, 09:38:54 PM »

Latest news:

Quote
Canonization Committee Convened in Antelias
Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Information Services 31 January, 2014

From January 27 through 29, under the blessings of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia; the Canonization Committee of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church was convened in the Mother Cathedral of the Great House of Cilicia. Prior to the meeting, the members of the Canonization Committee met with His Holiness Aram I, receiving His fatherly blessings and appreciation for their efforts.

...

During the meeting they discussed and made decisions on canonization conditions, service, canon of hymns devoted to the Genocide victims, the service and date of the liturgical commemoration, as well as issues relating to the preparation of their relics and icons. The committee also made an agreement to complete the whole canonization process in 2015. Appropriate assignments were made in this regards. The meeting was closed with prayers.

The next meeting of the Canonization Committee will be convened from May 25 through 30, in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

http://www.armenianchurch.org/index.jsp?sid=3&nid=2546&y=2014&m=0&d=31
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« Reply #43 on: February 13, 2014, 06:19:24 AM »

I don't see that the commemoration of the Armenian Martyrs of the Genocide is the same as the commemoration of all the Armenian victims of the Genocide, and I don't sense that is what is being proposed.

God certainly knows his own and when we cannot change the state of the departed by a fiat in any case, but we can commemorate those who bore witness to their faith and died because of their faith - wheat and tares - we cannot easily see the difference but all is clear and manifest to God who honours the intention of our commemoration surely.

I am perfectly happy with the glorification of the Armenian Martyrs and hope that the other Orthodox jurisdictions will share in such an occasion. If they belong to the Armenian Church then they belong to us all.
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