VATICAN — It’s a Mass that will go down in history. It marks the first time, Pope Francis co-celebrated Mass with the newly-elected Armenian Patriarch, Gregory Peter XX Chabroyan. This after, the pope granted the patriarch “ecclesial communion.” This points to a concrete sign that confirms the Eucharistic communion between the two.
“For us and for the Armenian Church it has been an extraordinary day. The entire hierarchy of the Church was there. It was the first time, and for me at 81 years old, it will probably be the last,” Chabroyan said.
Pope Francis granted the so-called Ecclesiastica Communio back in July after the patriarch was elected. Now, it was actually put into practice in Mass with the consecration of the Eucharist.
Before that, they had met in the Vatican in April, when a Mass was held in St. Peter’s Basilica, to mark 100 years since the Armenian Genocide.
In addition to his Armenian heritage, the patriarch lives in Lebanon and was born in Syria, where thousands are fleeing from war and persecution. The persecution of religious minorities is something he’s personally seen for years.
“It’s a cross that my fellow Christian brothers and sisters are carrying. They need encouragement and they need support. These poor refugees. We are all brothers and sisters and all they want is something to eat.”
At the age of 81, he is the oldest elected Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians. When he was elected, back in July, he says he had his doubts, but he let go and allowed faith lead the way.
The Patriarchate of Cilicia is the only patriarchate within the Armenian Catholic Church. Back in 1866, the seat of the patriarchate was moved to Constantinople under the Ottoman Empire, but in 1928 it was moved to Beirut, Lebanon, where it still remains to this day.