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New Armenian Catholic patriarch elected

July 27, 2015

The Synod of Bishops of the Armenian Catholic Church has elected Bishop Gregory Ghabroyan, 80, as the 20th Armenian Catholic Patriarch of Cilicia.

The prelate, now known as Gregory Petros XX Ghabroyan, succeeds Nerses Petros XIX Tarmouni, who died on June 25.

The new patriarch was born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1934 and studied in Lebanon and at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. In 1959, he was ordained a priest of the Patriarchal Congregation of Bzommar, an Armenian Catholic religious institute.

Ordained to the episcopate in 1977, he ministered to Armenian Catholics in France until his retirement in 2013, first as apostolic exarch and then as head of the Armenian Catholic Eparchy of Paris, which was established in 1986.

The new patriarch's July 25 election followed a 10-day gathering of the Armenian Catholic Synod of Bishops. After his election, he requested ecclesial communion with Pope Francis.

In his July 25 letter granting the new patriarch ecclesial communion, Pope Francis wrote that "the election of Your Beatitude comes at a moment when your Church is facing certain difficulties and new challenges, such as in particular the situation of part of the Armenian Catholic faithful who pass through great trials in the Middle East."

"However, illumined by the light of faith in the Risen Christ, our view of the world is full of hope and mercy, for we are certain that the Cross of Jesus is the tree that gives life," Pope Francis continued. "The numerous Armenian martyrs and St. Gregory of Narek, Doctor of the Church, will not fail to intercede for you."

The Armenian Catholic Church is among the Eastern Catholic churches in full communion with the Holy See; its first patriarch, a former bishop of the Armenian Apostolic Church, was granted ecclesial communion by Pope Benedict XIV in 1742.

The Armenian Apostolic Church is among the Oriental Orthodox churches that ceased to be in full communion with the Holy See following the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (451). It has an estimated six million members, while the Armenian Catholic Church now has 566,000 members, according to recent Vatican statistics.

Gregory Petros XX Ghabroyan's installation as patriarch will take place next month in Lebanon, the current headquarters of the patriarchate.


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