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Armenian community in Turkey to hold 'co-patriarchy’' election

06 January 2010 [11:54] - TODAY.AZ
The Armenian community is preparing for the second “co-patriarchy” election in the history of the Turkish Republic.
Turkey’s Armenian community has officially applied to the Istanbul governorship to begin the election process for a co-patriarch because of the illness of the current patriarch, Mesrop II.

Under the Armenian Church’s canon law, Mesrop II will retain the title until his death even after the co-patriarch is elected.

The electorate is composed of 50,000 members of Istanbul’s Armenian community.

Current Patriarch Mesrop II, the 84th to hold the office, is ill and, in case of his death, the co-patriarch will assume the job after 40 days. According to the Armenian Church’s canon law, Mesrop II will keep his title until his death. But because he is suffering from dementia, it is necessary to elect a co-patriarch.

The official application for the elections has been made to the Istanbul governor’s office although the election has raised debate about the function of the patriarch. Some community members believe the patriarch should act as a more symbolic figure.

When Mesrop II became patriarch, Turkey’s Armenian community was largely inward looking. The patriarch drew attention through his intellectual background, foreign education and modern point of view in contrast to many of his predecessors during the republican period.

At the time, Mesrop II’s candidacy aroused much debate both in the local Armenian community and the Turkish press. The community was skeptical of a young cleric becoming patriarch while the Turkish press focused on his political views.

Despite these questions, Mesrop Mutafyan won the election in 1998 and became Mesrop II, Patriarch of Turkey’s Armenians. Besides handling his spiritual duties and fulfilling his community responsibilities, Mesrop II also played an active role in bringing the problems of the Armenian community to Turkey’s agenda.

/Hurriyet Daily News/

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