(ZENIT News / Rome, 09.05.2023).- As part of the reciprocal study visits organised by the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, a delegation of Catholic priests was invited by the Armenian Apostolic Church – See of Etchmiadzin, from 26 August to 2 September, to deepen their knowledge of the Armenian Christian tradition.
The delegation, composed of seven young priests from different countries (Spain, France, Italy, Czech Republic), all involved in ecumenical relations at the national or diocesan level, was accompanied by Revd Fr Hyacinthe Destivelle, OP, official of the Eastern Section of the DPCU, and Deacon Garik Hokhanian, staff member of the Department for Ecumenism of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The programme included visits to the various departments (ecumenism, education and mission) of the Catholicosate, education centres (Kevorkian and Vazgenian seminaries), monasteries (Khor Virap and Khazaravan), museums and libraries (Holy Etchmiadzin, Matenadaran) and the main holy sites of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
On 1 September, the delegation was warmly received in audience by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, at his residence at the Holy See of Etchmiadzin.
The delegation also met with His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Representative to the Holy See of the Armenian Apostolic Church – See of Etchmiadzin; H.E. Msgr. Jose Avelino Betancourt, then Apostolic Nuncio to Armenia and Georgia; Revd Fr Shahe Ananyan, Head of the Department for Ecumenism of the Armenian Apostolic Church – See of Etchmiadzin; and many other leaders and pastors. The delegation also participated in the Sunday liturgy at the Armenian Catholic Church in Yerevan.
These study visits for young priests, organised annually since 2020 by the DPCU and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, aim to promote mutual understanding and fraternal relations. Three study visits to Rome were organised by the DPCU for young priests and monks from the Oriental Orthodox Churches in 2020, 2022 and 2023. The study visit to Armenia was the first to be organised by an Oriental Orthodox Church as part of this exchange programme.