Armenian Catholic Church Elected New Patriarch

Elected last September, His Beatitude Rafael Bedros XXI Minassian assumed the function of Patriarch of the Armenian-Catholic Church.

Lebanon (25/10/2021 5:00 PM, Gaudium Press) Last September, Pope Francis called the Synod of Bishops of the Armenian-Catholic Church to elect a successor to Patriarch Krikor Bedros XX, who died in May at the age of 94. On September 23, Rafael Bedros XXI was elected as the new Patriarch.

The new Patriarch of Catholic Armenian Cilicia, His Beatitude Rafael Bedros XXI Minassian, officially took possession after a ceremony in Lebanon on October 24.

The event was attended by several religious and civil authorities. Among them the Patriarch of the Melkite Church His Beatitude Youssef Absi, bishops representing Patriarchs Aram I and Karekin II, a representative of the Lebanese President, and the Armenian Ambassador Vahakn Atapekian.

The Enthronement Ceremony and its Symbolism

The enthronement ceremony has its origins in antiquity and consists of a sequence of prayers and chants alternating between the bishops and the faithful. At the beginning of the Mass, the invocations ask for divine intercession upon the new Patriarch and his mission. The candidate is presented to the assembly and makes his profession of faith, and then takes possession of his new ministry. 

The rite, full of symbolism, reaches its climax when, the bishops present spread a golden robe over the candidate’s head following the liturgical readings. The cloth symbolizes the strength of the Holy Spirit coming down to protect the Patriarch’s mission.

Rafael Bedros XXI Minassian also received the patriarchal staff and then assumed his position in the Patriarchal Chair. The cathedral bells then announced that the chair was no longer vacant.

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Homily: thanksgiving and responsibilities

The Holy Mass was celebrated by the Patriarch, His Beatitude Rafael Bedros XXI Minassian. During the homily, he thanked Pope Francis for confirming his election and the bishops of the Armenian-Catholic Church who elected him. The Patriarch also thanked the faithful present and recalled that he had been ordained a priest in the same cathedral during the civil war. Now, as Patriarch, he wants to share the sufferings and tribulations with the region’s people.

“As we were able to overcome the challenges of the past and we all survived together, I am sure that with Divine Providence, we will also be able to overcome all the sufferings of the present,” the Patriarch said.

Exchange of Letters between the Pope and the Patriarch

 In a letter delivered to Pope Francis during the meeting with the Armenian-Catholic Bishops, the newly elected Patriarch expressed his desire to assume his new responsibility to “serve the Church with all my strength.” He entrusted himself to the Mercy of the Christ to help him take care of all the needs of the Church

Pope Francis, in turn, sent a congratulatory letter in where he expre                                                              ssed his joy at the election and the enthronement of the Patriarch. The Pontiff stated that the Church is now under the responsibility of His Beatitude Raphaël Bedros XXI Minassian, and “is fully inserted in the vicissitudes of the Armenian people, preserving their memory and traditions, and at the same time deeply connected to the Successor of the Apostle Peter.”

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In the end, according to a secular tradition, the Pontiff grants ecclesial communion to the new Patriarch.

 With information from VaticanNews.

Compiled by Gustavo Kralj

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