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Have our spiritual leaders lost their moral compass?

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  • Have our spiritual leaders lost their moral compass?

    http://asbarez.com/94712/the-borgias-of-etchmiadzin/



    The Borgias of Etchmiadzin

    BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

    If it weren’t for the Resurrection and the Ascension, Jesus Christ would be rolling in his grave at the sight of one of his servants, a high-ranking cleric at Etchmiadzin, driving around town and meeting his flock in a Bentley.

    Several weeks ago, the press in Armenia was abuzz with reports that Archbishop Navasard Kchoyan, the Vicar of the Ararat Diocese, which includes Yerevan and the portion of the Ararat province, had received a Bentley. The vehicle, valued at $180,000 to $280,000 was, according to the esteemed archbishop, a gift from one of his “godsons.”

    When “168 Zham,” a Yerevan-based publication broke the news last month, Kchoyan told the paper to not meddle in his private life and on Wednesday shrugged off criticism of his expensive wheels, telling RFE/RL that he doesn’t “take that seriously,” and arrogantly asking “Should I have renounced the gift?”

    On the heels of the Bentley revelation came reports from Hetq.am, a popular Armenian blog, that in 2007 Kchoyan received a pistol from then Prime Minister, Serzh Sarkisian. His spokeswoman reportedly told Hetq that he does not carry around the weapon

    “In all countries, weapons are presented to all those who are appreciated,” Kchoyan told RFE/RL. “A weapon is [given as] appreciation, not for some other purpose.”

    While His Holiness Karekin II, the Catholicos of All Armenians has been defrocking priests and archbishops left and right for violating “codes of conduct,” he has yet to offer an opinion, or more fitting in this case, a reprimand to Kchoyan, who has been linked closely to Sarkisian and his Republican Party.

    While calls for reforms have been aplenty since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Armenian Church should have reformed and not fallen prey to the same oligarchic standards that have become commonplace for Armenia’s ruling elite.

    Armenia has seen a rise in the practice of religion since independence and people place a high degree of respect to clerics. So, for a church leader to drive around town in a Bentley when the poverty rate in Armenia is not only in double-digits by exceeds 34 percent is nothing but blasphemy. Archbishop Kchoyan’s reckless disregard and attitude is even more unacceptable due to his position in the Armenian Church.

    On the surface it appears that our esteemed Archbishop Kchoyan has committed at least three of the seven deadly sins: pride, gluttony and greed.

    With the famed Borgias in vogue, thanks to an opulent new series starring Oscar-winner Jeremy Irons on Showtime, which premiered to higher-than-expected ratings last Sunday, it is difficult to not draw parallels with Rodrigo Borgia, who through palace intrigue became Pope Alexander VI, despite the fact that he had children and a wife and was known as one of the most bloody religious leaders in history.

    The Archbishop Kchoyan episode raises interesting questions, which the press in Armenia has begun to probe. How rooted are these violations of basic Christian codes in the Armenian Church? What else is going on behind the closed doors of the Church? (i.e. how much wealth are these clerics amassing at the expense of the parishioners and at what cost?)

    As a nation that prides itself as being the first to adopt Christianity as the official state religion, we must be more demanding of our clerics, be they in Armenia or elsewhere, to behave more humbly and shepherd their followers in accordance to Scripture.
    Last edited by londontsi; 04-08-2011, 09:51 AM.
    Politics is not about the pursuit of morality nor what's right or wrong
    Its about self interest at personal and national level often at odds with the above.
    Great politicians pursue the National interest and small politicians personal interests

  • #2
    Re: Have our spiritual leaders lost their moral compass

    This is one example, I do not see how he is an accurate reflection of the entire AAC.
    For the first time in more than 600 years, Armenia is free and independent, and we are therefore obligated
    to place our national interests ahead of our personal gains or aspirations.



    http://www.armenianhighland.com/main.html

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Have our spiritual leaders lost their moral compass

      Originally posted by Armanen View Post
      This is one example,.
      True.

      Originally posted by Armanen View Post
      I do not see how he is an accurate reflection of the entire AAC.
      I agree, nor do I.


      So you might say what is the problem.

      In society it is the cleric’s duty to provide moral guidance and instil moral values in society.
      Spiritual leaders be the highest ranking cleric down to the village priest have to be in a position
      to criticize any individual or society in general on any moral issue.

      Behaviour such as this undermines all other clerics who feel duty bound to criticize or make pronouncements as they see fit.
      How can anybody take them seriously when they seem to be unable to criticize one of their own.

      Already the average cleric must be vulnerable to be challenged from his flock if such a conversation took place.
      Politics is not about the pursuit of morality nor what's right or wrong
      Its about self interest at personal and national level often at odds with the above.
      Great politicians pursue the National interest and small politicians personal interests

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Have our spiritual leaders lost their moral compass

        This is really disheartening news. I have heard many people in Armenia talk about things just like this.

        Maybe some clerics or other bishops can take a similar position to that of one of the Church Fathers, St. John Chrysostom who was dealing with similar problems. In his day, bishops accepted similar types of gifts, held lavish banquets, were wining and dining with the various rulers etc. He deposed any priests/bishops involved in this sort of activity and basically gave any non-essential money/valuables to the poor and other charitable causes.

        Although calling others out on their misdeeds is something of a no-no in Armenia, especially if that person is "connected", maybe there can be some sort of coalition of clergy or at the very least a brave soul who is willing to "bear his cross" and stand up for the Gospel.
        «Արթուն մնացէ'ք եւ աղօթք արէ'ք, որպէսզի փորձութեան մէջ չընկնէք:»

        Մատթէոս 26:41

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Have our spiritual leaders lost their moral compass

          Originally posted by Armanen View Post
          This is one example, I do not see how he is an accurate reflection of the entire AAC.
          I agree, Armanen. However I think it would be good to nip the problem in the bud before it becomes an accepted "culture" like it has for many in the Armenian government.
          «Արթուն մնացէ'ք եւ աղօթք արէ'ք, որպէսզի փորձութեան մէջ չընկնէք:»

          Մատթէոս 26:41

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Have our spiritual leaders lost their moral compass

            Originally posted by yerazhishda View Post
            I agree, Armanen. However I think it would be good to nip the problem in the bud before it becomes an accepted "culture" like it has for many in the Armenian government.
            I am not defending this bishop. All I am saying is let's not attach labels to the entire Church because of one man. Also, the government in Armenia in no more corrupt than the one in the US.
            For the first time in more than 600 years, Armenia is free and independent, and we are therefore obligated
            to place our national interests ahead of our personal gains or aspirations.



            http://www.armenianhighland.com/main.html

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Have our spiritual leaders lost their moral compass

              Unfortunately when free masonry infiltrates the morality and the holiness goes out of the window.
              Եւ մի տանիր զմեզ ի բորձութիւն
              Այլ փրկեա ի չարէ:

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Have our spiritual leaders lost their moral compass

                Originally posted by Armanen View Post
                I am not defending this bishop.
                Agreed, but you are defending the system warts and all.


                Originally posted by Armanen View Post
                All I am saying is let's not attach labels to the entire Church because of one man.
                Like any institution the Church has a leader and leadership.

                Why have they stayed quiet?
                Doesn't the public deserve an explanation.

                Don't they have the moral standing, are themselves compromised? ( which we do not know about) so unable to utter a single statement.

                Can any member of the clergy do anything he likes as long as not everybody is at it at the same time?
                Where is the leader pulling the person in, to lecture him what is acceptable and what is not.

                The (in)actions says a lot about the quality of the leadership.



                Originally posted by Armanen View Post
                Also, the government in Armenia in no more corrupt than the one in the US.
                This is like saying a bit of radioactivity here and there does not matter.
                Things are much worse in Japan.
                Last edited by londontsi; 04-09-2011, 03:38 AM.
                Politics is not about the pursuit of morality nor what's right or wrong
                Its about self interest at personal and national level often at odds with the above.
                Great politicians pursue the National interest and small politicians personal interests

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Have our spiritual leaders lost their moral compass

                  http://asbarez.com/94712/the-borgias-of-etchmiadzin/



                  The Borgias of Etchmiadzin
                  While His Holiness Karekin II, the Catholicos of All Armenians has been defrocking priests and archbishops left and right for violating “codes of conduct,” he has yet to offer an opinion, or more fitting in this case, a reprimand to Kchoyan, who has been linked closely to Sarkisian and his Republican Party.
                  http://www.lragir.am/engsrc/society-lrahos21110.html

                  AND WHO WILL DEFROCK THE CATHOLICOS?

                  We, the undersigned – clergy and laymen alike from the Republic of Armenia, the Mountainous Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, and the Armenian Diaspora – feel it important to express our concerns regarding he recent dictates from the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin involving the defrocking of certain clergy. Henceforth, we would like to bring to light the content and due process of these dictates. Specifically we would like to highlight the legitimacy of certain, specific words and terminology used for all these defrockings, which occurred under the name (and order) of the Patriarchal verdict (“Hayrapetakan tnorinum”). First of all, what does Patriarchal verdict (“Hayrapetakan tnorinum”) mean? Neither the will of the Church nor of the Council of Bishops are included in this expression.

                  In reality, a Patriarchal verdict is an action by which the Catholicos becomes an absolute leader, with unlimited powers in disregard to the existence of any other canonical authority. However, Neither the Armenian nation nor the Armenian Apostolic Church, knowing human weakness, have ever granted such “absolute powers” to anyone. Controversially, one needs to first consider the word defrocking (“Karqaluydz”) in Armenian. In reality, that word has never existed in classical Armenian language.

                  Therefore, the word “defrocking” in Armenian has been added at a late period. Neither the “Haikazyan dictionary, the Norayr Puizandatsi’s reviewed version of the classical Armenian dictionary, nor the Peshtemaldjyan’s classical Armenian dictionary published in Constantinople in 1884, include the word “defrocking”. Interestingly enough, the word “resignation from the Order” (“Karqatogh”) exists in the Grabar of the Golden Age, but not “defrocking” (“Karqaluydz”), because our church fathers of the époque had determined that a man cannot deprive any other man from the grace granted by God. Although we will return to the aforementioned topic, we would like to focus on an important principle of Church doctrine which states that an ordination of a priest is a grace granted by God, and because of this fact, it is irrevocable.

                  According to the Church’s understanding, the true priest is Jesus Christ “…He was priest of God Most Eternal” (Genesis 14:18). Jesus Christ is the true priest: who offers the sacrifice, He who is sacrificed, and He who receives the offer of sacrifice. Hence, this is the reason why Jesus Christ is named the highest priest and not the Catholicos nor Supreme Patriarch or any other colorful title-holder.

                  The Church teaches that priesthood, as in Jesus Christ’s example, is a vocation established directly by Him in the New Testament. Therefore, objectively it cannot be subordinate to the ordaining Bishop nor can it depend upon the resolve of any spiritual or lay authority. According to the Church, the priest’s ordination is established by God’s sacrament and not by the rules of man, which can easily be revoked or reversed.

                  If we refer to the “Book of Ordination” (“Tzernadrutyan Mashtots”), on the basis of which Armenian priests are ordained, we will see that the vocation of a priest and the granting of graces are by God. So that, the bishop who ordains or carries out the ordination rite, is simply performing an official function.
                  Translating from the “Book of Ordination”, we would like to highlight a few examples from the prayers and hymns. During the ritual of a priest’s conferment, the ordaining bishop reads the following advice: “Our Lord Jesus Christ says the following: No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him; and every man who comes to me, I do not expel him”.

                  This means that the Lord is calling the devoted clergyman to the Ministry of His church, promising not to expel him. No ordinary person (including the Catholicos) who gives himself divine attribute has the right or the power to defrock (i.e., expel) a devoted priest from the church. The Order of clergyman is a sacred mission. The candidate is ordained by the Holy Spirit as a priest, becoming the people’s shepherd, Apostles’ fellow, worthy of salvation, and Christ’s heir. God’s bestowed ministry is sacred and inspiring.

                  Henceforth, this Order cannot be compared to any secular tasks. The Ministry of the clergyman is not the same or does not have the same relationship between a business owner or employer and an employee, where the employer appreciates or disapproves of the employee. Let us remember that the candidate consecrated from a deacon to a priest, and the sanctification of the Calling in him is God the Holy Spirit, and not the ordaining bishop.

                  “Almighty Lord God … You bestowed your saints the honor and glory. You granted in your faithful the grace of the prophecy. You gave to the people the honor of priesthood. You chose the holy apostles. And in the Holy Catholic Church, You established orders in different directions ...”

                  As per this prayer, God is always the only Authority as initiator, granter, benefactor and bestower of grace. In comparison to other churches and Christian doctrines, perhaps this is one of the principal features and spiritual highlights of the Armenian Church’s theological tradition. During the ordaining ceremony of a priest, one of the most distinguished hymns festively sung by the deacons is the interceding prayer directed to Almighty and miraculous God, with three verses specifically dedicated to the consecrated candidate clergyman on whose behalf the following request is made:
                  “Oh Great, Almighty and miraculous God…, we beseech you to raise in the world the order of priesthood with holy servants and with the congregation of the holy creed of the church, we beseech……and furthermore (the name) for the servant, whom you have chosen and called to the order of priesthood, protect and help him in everything, we beseech… …Keep him brave and pure in the order of priesthood, with the patronage of Your mighty hand, from evil temptations, visible and invisible enemies, we beseech.”

                  One needs to be blind, not only by vision but also intellectually, not to see (or to deny) the fact that it is as clear as the sun. In the “Book of Ordination” (“Tzernadrutyan Mashtots”), the prayers indicate that God is the one and only authority who can grant the right to celebrate and to sanctify, through the salvation of His Son and the Holy Spirit.

                  No one can officially revoke an ordinary person’s baptism for whatever reason, and in essence tell that person that s/he is no longer a Christian, after that person has been legitimately baptized. No one can tell a confirmed believer that s/he is denied of the graces granted to him/her by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, neither a bishop nor a patriarch nor a Catholicos has the right to defrock an ordained priest for administrative, organizational or “political” reasons. Most importantly, it is unacceptable to place a priest in the lay category by defrocking him through a “patriarchal order” (“Hayrapetakan tnorinum”), by saying: “The defrocked priest, therefore, is classified into the lay category and re-named into his baptismal name.”If the ordained priest has accepted the Holy Spirit by the rite of ordination, has become God’s accomplice, and the minister of the church, how can he be removed from his priestly order? How can he be denied his ordained name? And how can he be forced to join the lay category? It is in a way good that in the recent declarations of the Holy See, the defrocked priest can be called by his baptismal name and not by his passport name. Otherwise, we would have the impression that through the “patriarchal order”, the “defrocked priest” is not only being stripped of his ordained name, but also denied of all his Christian roots and character.

                  As aforementioned, the word “defrocking” (“Karqaluydz”) does not exist in classical Armenian; but “resignation from the Order” (“Karqatogh”), does. One can be “Karqatogh” when he resigns from the Order voluntarily. Henceforth, an important theological question asks: does the resigned priest keep his ordination after his resignation or not? According to the church’s doctrine, the answer is “yes”. For example, in the event of an emergency when a priest is not available and there is a need for baptism (i.e., a non-baptized person on his/her deathbed wanting to be christened), if a resigned (“Karqatogh”) priest is available, then his baptism is legitimate for the church. Another example of an emergency situation could be while during a crisis (i.e., a natural disaster) a couple would like to share their vows and a resigned priest blesses them in the name of the Holy Trinity, the marriage is considered legitimate for the church. In retrospect, when a resigned priest decides to return to the church and pursue his vocation as a priest after regretting his departure, the authority of the church does not “re-ordain” him due to the fact that he is already ordained.

                  In this case, the church grants him a short and simple blessing and accepts him back to the church because in the eyes of God he has always remained a priest. In other words, the ordination of a priest is a one-time event and cannot be repeated. Unfortunately in recent years, after priests have voluntarily resigned from the order, immediately a “defrock” order had been issued by the Holy See in the name of the Catholicos. This, in reality, is paradoxical. There is one and only reason the church can justify defrocking a priest: heresy. For instance, when a priest denies the principal creed of the Christian faith, such as the story of Arius (325 A.D.) “who disagreed with doctrine of co-equal Trinitarianism, a Christology representing the Father and Son (Jesus of Nazareth) as 'of one essence' (consubstantial) and coeternal”. Another example, when someone like heretic Nestorius (431 A.D.) rejects the Virgin Mary as Theotokos, “Mother of God.”

                  In fact, immediately before a priest’s ordination, the candidate officially denounces all the heresies mentioned in the Book of Ordination by proclaiming the “Anathema” against them. In the event of an ordained priest falling into new or old heresies, and if he does not repent his actions despite the church’s warnings, he essentially “defrocks himself” because he opposes the church’s dogma and against his own consciousness. Therefore, the church simply proclaims the unquestionable fact in the form of defrocking.

                  During the past 10 years of HH Karekin II’s reign, many deacons, priests, celibate priests, bishops and archbishops have been defrocked by “patriarchal order” (“Hayrapetakan tnorinum”). None of these “orders” include heresy as the reason to defrock. In contrast, the “orders” draw on flimsy accusations of failure and sinful behavior: “For disobedience” (Archbishop Tiran Kyoureghyan), “Request to leave his Ministry” (Archbishop Ananya Arapadjyan and Archbishop Asoghik Aristakesyan), “voluntarily leaving the Ministry” (Fr. Zohrap Kostanyan and Fr. Xoren Zaqaryan); “Not following regulations to pursue the vow of submission” (Fr. Garegin Harutyunyan and Fr. Norayr Simonyan); “In contradiction of a priest’s lifestyle and regulations” (Fr. Petros Ezekyan); “For disobedience” (Fr. Eprem Sargsyan); “By the request of the Primate to defrock the priest since he has asked for it” (Fr. Ruben Eghyazaryan); “Request to leave his Ministry” (Fr. Vazken Nanyan); “Denouncing his vows” (Fr. Hovhannes Mayilyan); “According topersonal request” (Fr. Arshen Sanossyan); “Against his spiritual vocation” (Fr. Mxitar Saribekyan); and so on. We can continue with these listings and reasonings. None of these can be justified under canonical law of the Church.

                  Furthermore, it needs to be noted that no patriarch in the Armenian Church’s history has ever defrocked any and so many priests for non-heretical reasons or offenses as has been done by HH Karekin II. The only exception has been during the pontifical period of HH Vasken I (during the Soviet era) where he was obliged to “officially dismiss” all those priests who escaped or defected from the Soviet Union to the West. According to HH Karekin II, however, every clergyman is subject to defrocking except for himself. Finally, the ordaining of the Catholicos is conducted by 12 bishops in order to glorify and invigorate the ceremony. In fact, according to the canon law of the Armenian Church, 3 bishops are needed to ordain a Catholicos and ensure its legitimacy. As an example, in 1956 HH Zareh I Payaslyan was ordained as Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia by one Assyrian and two Armenian bishops. In fact, an ecclesiastical paradox exists in the Armenian Church: how can 3 bishops ordain a Catholicos (who is above their rank) but a thousand bishops cannot ordain a celibate priest (a “Vardapet” who is below their rank) into a bishop like themselves? “A right” should be based upon truth and justice. If 3 bishops can ordain a Catholicos, can’t they also defrock a Catholicos under the same legitimate right? This question is reasonable and valid. Otherwise, who will defrock the Catholicos …?

                  Council of Dignity of the Armenian Apostolic Church
                  21/03/2011
                  Plenipotentiary meow!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Have our spiritual leaders lost their moral compass

                    http://hetq.am/en/society/56107/

                    The above article appeared in the “Hedq” also.

                    Looking at the various reader comments .......


                    Rev. Fr. Kevork Arakelian Says:
                    March 29th, 2011 at 05:39
                    I rejoice in what I have read above.
                    Many of us priests in the Armenian Church of North America, Western Diocese have had the same discussions.
                    We have also noted that the Primates of the Eastern, Western and Canadian Dioceses are just plain afraid of their own shadows and will not stand up for what is correct.

                    Bravo!! What can we do to help?
                    Rev. Fr. Kevork Arakelian Says:
                    April 1st, 2011 at 09:56
                    I was just suspended from pastoral duties from the Western Diocese for the comments I made above!
                    Last edited by londontsi; 04-09-2011, 11:17 PM.
                    Politics is not about the pursuit of morality nor what's right or wrong
                    Its about self interest at personal and national level often at odds with the above.
                    Great politicians pursue the National interest and small politicians personal interests

                    Comment

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