Diocese Ecumenical Director Visits Iraq as Part of US Delegation


Archbishop Vicken Aykazian greets President Massoud Barzani in Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region.

BAGHDAD — Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the Diocese’s ecumenical director, joined US church leaders on a visit to Iraq earlier this month, where the delegation met with government officials to discuss Christian- Kurdish relations in the country’s northern region.

The visit, which took place from November 3 to 10, was led by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the retired Roman Catholic archbish- op of Washington. Participants also included Evangelical and Episcopalian church leaders.

The church leaders met with government officials of the Kurdish autonomous region, including its President Massoud Barzani, Prime Minister Nechervan Idris Barzani, and head of the Security Council Barzani. They also met with local church leaders in Iraq.

Conversations focused on the difficulties facing Christian families in the region, and on ways the government could reach out to support this minority population.

Aykazian also had an opportunity to meet with Archbishop Avak Asadourian, the Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Iraq, and to visit the Armenian Church in Dohuk. In addition, he spoke with government officials about the possibility of building a new Armenian Church in nearby Erbil, where some 250 Armenian families reside. Officials promised to clear the way for the construction project.