HIS EMINENCE PIETRO PAROLIN CARDINAL SECRETARY OF STATE VISITS ARMENIA (11-13 JULY 2023)
At the invitation of H.E. Mr. Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, His Eminence Pietro Parolin, Cardinal Secretary of State, paid a visit to Armenia 11 – 13 July 2023. On the evening of Tuesday, 11 July, the Cardinal Secretary of State, accompanied by Monsignor Paweł Marcin Obiedziński, Official of the Section for Relations with States, arrived at the border crossing of Georgia and Armenia, Sadakhlo/Bagratashen. They were welcomed to Armenia by His Excellency. Mr. Paruyr Hovhannisyan, Under-Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and H.E. Mr. Garen Nazaryan, Ambassador to the Holy See, and H.E. Mr. Harutyun Vardanyan, Official of the State Protocol Service. Also present were the Apostolic Nuncio, H.E. Mons. José A. Bettencourt, and the Counselor of the Apostolic Nunciature, Mons. Aliaksandr Rahinia.
On the morning of Tuesday 12 July, Cardinal Parolin presided a concelebration of the Holy Mass in the Apostolic Nunciature’s chapel, and at the conclusion blessed a statue of Our Lady of Fatima, gifted by the Sanctuary of Fatima. Cardinal Parolin visited the Memorial dedicated to the Victims of the Armenian Genocide where he prayed and laid a wreath of flowers in commemoration. He was accompanied by H.E. Mr. Paruyr Hovhannisyan, Under-Secretary of Foreign Affairs. In the adjacent Museum, the historical and political context of events were illustrated. The Cardinal also viewed documentary findings, in particular those relating to Pope Benedict XV humanitarian appeals. At the end of the journey, the Cardinal Secretary of State signed the Guest Book assuring his prayers for the victims of the atrocious tragedy and hoping that, with the grace of a merciful God, human relationships will be healed and inspired by justice and mutual respect.
Cardinal Parolin was received by H.E. Mr. Vahagn Khachaturyan, President of the Republic of Armenia. During the meeting, the Armenian Head of State thanked the Cardinal for his visit to Armenia and Pope Francis’ attentiveness towards Armenian issues. They discussed a broad range of themes as well as specific bilateral cooperation.
The Cardinal Secretary of State was received by H.E. Mr. Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister, who was accompanied by the Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and government officials. During the cordial meeting, both Parties expressed their satisfaction with the excellent bilateral relations. Last year marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations (1992-2022) between the Holy See and Armenia. They discussed bilateral relations, regional security, Armenian prisoners in Azerbaijan, humanitarian issues and Armenian cultural heritage, as well as various aspects concerning the life of the Catholic Church in Armenia. The Head of the Armenian Government conveyed appreciation for Pope Francis’ appeals, renewed his gratitude for the Apostolic visit undertaken in June 2016 and the subsequent opening of the diplomatic mission of the Papal Representation in Yerevan.
On the morning of Thursday, 13 July, Cardinal Parolin travelled to Gyumri for the Eucharistic celebration with the local Armenian Catholic community. The Holy Mass in the Armenian Rite was presided over by Father. Mikael Bassalé, I.C.P.B., Apostolic Administrator of the Ordinariate. The Secretary of State delivered a homily conveying Pope Francis’ greetings to Armenians. Drawing inspiration from the liturgical texts of the day, he encouraged the faithful to face the challenges of daily life with courage and trust in the Lord and to bear witness to others of the joy of the Gospel. At the end of the celebration, Cardinal Parolin met displaced people, families of fallen soldiers and victims of the Nagorno-Karabach conflict. Subsequently, Cardinal Parolin met with priests, religious men and women who provide their pastoral service in Armenia.
In the afternoon, Cardinal Parolin visited the Holy See of Etchmiadzin, for a courtesy visit to His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of the Armenians. During the meeting, the Catholicos was accompanied by the Archbishop H.E. Nathan Hovhanissyan, President of the Department for External Relations of the Armenian Apostolic Church, by Archbishop H.E. Khajag Barsamian, Delegate for Western Europe and His Personal Representative in Rome, as well as by Proto-Archimandrite Shahe Ananyan, Director of the Department for Inter-Ecclesial Relations of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The Secretary of State conveyed to His Holiness Karekin II the cordial greeting of the Holy Father Francis, to which the Catholicos reciprocated with expressions of esteem and gratitude. During the cordial conversation, various aspects concerning the dialogue and cooperation between the Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church were touched upon, noting with satisfaction the existing fraternal relations. They talked about the consequences of the regional conflict and the Armenian cultural heritage.
In the evening of the same day, his Eminence Cardinal Parolin concluded his visit to Armenia and returned to Rome