Pope’s Message at Funeral for Patriarch Nersex Bedros XIX Tarmouni

“He held that the most precious treasure that a Bishop is called to administer is the faith stemming from apostolic preaching.”

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Here is a translation of the message that Pope Francis sent to Bishop Gregoire Ghabroyan, Administrator of the Patriarchate of Cilicia of the Armenians, on the occasion of the Funeral of the Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, which took place yesterday afternoon in the Cathedral of Saint Gregory and Elias at Beirut THe message was read by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

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To His Excellency Bishop Gregoire Ghabroyan, Administrator of the Patriarchal Church of Cilicia of the Armenians.

It is with profound sadness that I learned the news of the return to the House of the Father of our beloved brother in Christ, His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians. I keep in my heart the memory of my meeting with him, accompanied by Bishops of the Synod and faithful of this Patriarchal Church, on the occasion of the commemoration of the victims of Metz Yegern and of the proclamation of Saint Gregory of Narek, Doctor of the universal Church. These events lived with relics of the Apostle Saint Peter were as though accomplishing the long and faithful course of your Head and Father, which make it possible to highlight some characteristic aspects of his person.

He was, first of all, profoundly rooted on the Rock that is Christ. He held that the most precious treasure that a Bishop is called to administer is the faith stemming from apostolic preaching. His Beatitude spent himself without counting the cost for its diffusion, in particular by fostering the permanent formation of the clergy so that, even in difficult contexts, the ministers of God renew their adherence to Christ, only hope and consolation of humanity.

He worked so that the just commemoration of the sufferings endured by the Armenian people in the course of their history should become a thanksgiving to God, considering the example of martyrs and witnesses, and obtain from Him at the same time the balm of consolation and reconciliation, which alone can heal the most profound wounds of souls and peoples.

Patriarch Nerses was able to rejoice finally, with all the Armenian people, over the elevation of Saint Gregory of Narek to the luminous title of Doctor of the Church. His Beatitude often wished that the spiritual charisma of this great Saint should become an example for pastors and faithful, certain that in Saint Gregory of Narek each one would be able to know the wonders that the Lord is capable of accomplishing in a heart that opens to Him, in the simplicity and abasement of everyday life, thus becoming solidaristic with humanity’s drama by an unceasing intercession.

Invited to gather this threefold legacy that Patriarch Nerses has left us, we implore the Holy Spirit to continue to renew the face of the Armenian Catholic Church, thanks to the involvement of pastors and faithful, and we also entrust to the Father of all Mercies the fatigues linked to the limitations and fragilities of our condition of pilgrims on the way to the eternal Homeland.

Upon the family of His Beatitude and upon all those taking part in his funeral rites, I impart my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing on invoking the protection of the Mother of God and on presenting to the Lord the soul of our brother Nerses Bedros with the words of Saint Gregory of Narek:

We pray to you, we implore with sighs full of tears, from our whole soul, O glorious creative power, compassionate, indestructible, uncreated, eternal Spirit, interceding for us with the Merciful Father in ineffable groans. You protect the Saints, purify sinners and transform them into living and vivifying temples, as it pleases your Father on high.

From the Vatican, June 27, 2015


[Translation by ZENIT]

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