By Hagop Vartivarian
For a while now, certain members of the mass media, both in Armenia and the diaspora, have publicized certain communiqués connected to the Armenian Church of Switzerland, by means of which they wish to disorient the public opinion.
The issue pertains to the decision reached during the last meeting of the Supreme Council of the Mother See, which was convened March 17-19. Alongside various internal ecclesiastical issues, the problems existing within the Armenian Diocese of Switzerland were taken under consideration. Archbishop Norvan Zakarian, Pontifical Legate to Western Europe, and Archbishop Yeznik Petrossian reported on them.
The Parish Council of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Switzerland, chaired by Eugene Papazian, had decided to declare Switzerland a separate diocese and had prepared a draft of the diocesan by-laws and submitted it to His Holiness Vazken I, then Catholicos of All Armenians. Acceding to the request presented to him, His Holiness issued an encyclical in 1993, which proclaimed Switzerland to be a separate diocese and approved the draft of the by-laws submitted. In the very same year, Very Rev. Vicken Aykazian, pastor of the Geneva parish, was appointed diocesan primate. As of September 1992, he had already been ordained a bishop. The various parishes functioning in Switzerland – Geneva, Thessen, Neuchâtel, Zurich, Baden and Kreuzlingen, as well as the World Council of Churches and other ecumenical organizations operating in Switzerland, had served as the basis for this patriarchal decision, anticipating the necessity of elevating the representation of the Armenian Church to a high level.
In light of the discussions at the Supreme Council’s meeting this March, His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, appointed Rev. Mesrop Barsamian, vice chancellor of the Mother See, as diocesan vicar, in order to undertake the reorganization of the diocesan life in Switzerland and, at the same time, to serve as pastor of the Armenian community in Geneva. It was also decided at this meeting to invite the current pastor in Geneva, Fr. Abel Manukian, to the Mother See for him to serve in another capacity.
The newly-appointed diocesan vicar, accompanied by Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, arrived in Geneva on April 9. Then, on April 10, Archbishop Hovnan accompanied Father Mesrop to officially present him in the Saint Hagop Church of Geneva.