03/24/2019 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – Turkey’s Armenians are preparing to elect a new Patriarch after Easter, according to local news sources. The announcement comes one week after the 84th Patriarch of Constantinople, Archbishop Mesrob II Mutafyan, was laid to rest following his death. At the time, forty days of mourning were declared before the election would proceed.
The election of a new Patriarch has long been a controversial and anticipated event. Archbishop Mesrob II had been in a coma since 2008, and the Turkish government refused to allow the Armenians to elect a new patriarch on the basis that the Archbishop was still alive. For this reason, Aram Ateşyan served as acting patriarch during this time. He is considered a candidate for the election, as well as the deputy of the late Armenian patriarch, Sahak Masalyan.
Although the Armenian community is moving forward to make plans for the Patriarchal Election, concerns continue to swirl regarding Turkey’s response. The government has a long record of interfering in church administration. Many Armenians fled the country over a century ago because of the genocide. Those who remain routinely report harassment and threats made because of their continued presence in Turkey.