I embarked on my pontifical visit on 6th of November in Washington DC; and in the last 15 days in my messages, speeches and meetings I addressed issues and challenges pertaining to the mission of the Armenian Church and the imperative of reorganizing of our communities. In discussing these issues I laid the emphases on the critical importance of renewal, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I noted in his closing remarks of at the official banquet organized in his honor in NYC.
“Let me put it realistically: We cannot continue our church and community life without engaging them in a process of renewal which implies critical re-evaluation.
1) My first observation is related to globalisation. We are living in a world dominated by globalisation. Globalisation is a system, world view, way of life; it is a culture which permeates all aspects of our life, individual and community, our reflection and action, even our self-understanding. Our approach to globalisation, should not be reactive but proactive. The question is how can we interact creatively with globalisation and, at the same time, preserve those values that ensure and sustain our identity.
2) My second observation pertains to our church. The Armenian Church is one of the most ancient churches in world christendom. In a rapidly and radically changing world, renewal of the church is no more an option, but a must. Renewal is not just a change or re-adjustment of certain aspects of the church. Renewal is essentially making our church a church for 21st century by responding to new realities and expectations of the people; it is making the church a living, witnessing, serving reality.
3) My third observation concerns our self-understanding as a community. Who we are? This question may sound somewhat odd, but it is an important question. Are we Armenians living in USA? Are we Americanized Armenians? I was student here in NYC when in 1976 USA celebrated the bicentennial of its independence. This was an occasion for many communities to reaffirm their specific identity. I remember the well-known book, Roots, written by Alex Haley. USA is a country of ethnic and religious diversities, and what unite these diversities are common American values. We are one of the communities of USA and therefore we must be proud of our identity as other communities are. We must make a clear distinction between integration and assimilation. We are, of course, with integration, being an integral and inseparable part of American society. We are against assimilation in this “melting pot” that characterizes American society.
4) As a nation we are at a crucial juncture of our modern history. We are dominated by uncertainties, tensions and polarisation in Armenia and Diaspora-Armenia relations. After the tragedy of Artsakh, Armenia is exposed to new dangers. As Diaspora we cannot remain indifferent. We are called to discern the emerging geopolitical realities which, unfortunately, are not in favor of Armenia. Let me be clear. We cannot continue the way we are by repeating ourselves, by living the past in the present, and by guiding our life with slogans. We must be realistic.
We need charismatic and visionary leaders, in Armenia and in Diaspora, who are able to read the signs of times and lead our homeland and nation accordingly, guided by the supreme values and interests of our nation.
We need to develop a new strategy in the face of new challenges and circumstances confronting our homeland and Diaspora.
We must get rid of frozen mentality, dogmatic approaches, and stereotypes that dominate our perceptions and actions, and develop new strategies and methodologies that are in line with the emerging realities and are undergirded by the ideals of our nation.
I firmly believe that our youth with their creative mind and forward looking vision can play a pivotal role in opening of our nation and homeland to broader spaces new horizons,” he said.