VAGHARSHAPAT, Armenia, MARCH 6, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the welcome address Karekin II, supreme patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, gave Tuesday upon greeting Benedict XVI’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who is visiting Armenia this week.
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It is our pleasure and joy to greet Your Eminence in the spiritual center of all Armenians — the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin, on the occasion of your visit to Armenia and our Mother See on behalf of our dear brother in Christ, His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope of Rome.
We are also happy to welcome the delegation that has accompanied Your Eminence on this pilgrimage to Armenia, and pleases us greatly to greet here today the Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the Vatican, His Excellency Edward Nalbandian, and thank him for his service to our two states.
We offer thanks to Almighty God in heaven, that today we witness the historical ties between our two Churches filled with fraternal love and a spirit of collaboration, with new achievements and programs that crown our divine mission with success.
In the not too distant past, our predecessors of blessed memory established the foundations for our cooperation through their luminous and wise decisions, which were reinforced through reciprocal visitations, mutual respect and an atmosphere of trust.
The relationship today shall continue in that same spirit and along the path drawn by our fathers, contributing positively to our common witness and prayerful collaboration in this world filled with challenges and trials, for the glory of God and the welfare of our faithful sons and daughters.
At this moment, we fondly recall our visit to the Vatican in 2000, and the visit of His Holiness John Paul II of blessed memory to Armenia, which opened new avenues of opportunity for our two Churches in the sphere of warm and brotherly relations.
We wish to extend through Your Eminence, to His Holiness, our dear Brother in Christ, Pope Benedict XVI, our thanks for his cordial attitude to the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian people, which manifests itself in many spheres. A living example of this is the numerous opportunities afforded by the Catholic church to our young clergyman who are continuing their theological educations in Catholic universities and institutions of higher learning throughout the world. We further extend our appreciation to His Holiness for the recent allocation of the Saint Biagio church in Rome to the Armenian community of Italy to serve their spiritual and pastoral needs.
Our commendation also to His Excellency Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, Nuncio for Armenia, whose efforts directed at bringing our two Churches and states closer together are very much appreciated.
Dear Cardinal, your presence here today provides deep consolation to us, as we stand together in prayer with our clergy and faithful, offering our appeal to God for the sake of our country in these difficult days, asking for our wounds to quickly heal and for the complex problems facing our nation and society to receive their just solutions.
Please convey our warmest greetings to His Holiness Benedict XVI. We are hopeful that the Almighty shall grant us the joyful opportunity to meet, and to reconfirm and reinforce our friendship and brotherly love in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Welcome to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. Welcome to Armenia.