By Nubar Dorian

“One does not choose one’s subject, one submits to it.” – Gustave Flaubert

Jews, Christians and Muslims all across the universe consider Jerusalem the most histor- ical, meaningful, significant city in the world. Very few, including Armenians, know that some 1,000 acres of the most valuable parcel of land belongs to Armenians, just a little larger than the land owned by Greek and Catholic communities. All three consider their share inviolate, God-ordained and price- less.

Now that the Armenian Patriarch, His Beatitude Torkom Manougian, is seriously ill and unable to function, the situation remains most critical. Most urgent and most fatefully, it is tragic if not incomprehensive to note the complete silence of Armenians, the press, newscasts. No community interest, no debates, no discussions. It is simply left to the pleasure and whim of some three-dozen clergy to determine the future of the Jerusalem Patriarchate. What irony. To leave the fate, the symbolism, the treasure, our most precious heritage and proud possession

is pure folly, if not insanity, in following the dictates of a constitution written decades ago giving full power to the brotherhood, excluding all lay voices, lay input, lay experi- ences and lay participation.

Just take a minute and view the situation. The Primate of the smallest diocese of Armenians was elected by both lay and cler- gy combined. All future plans, future actions are debated, discussed and voted upon. Long ago, there was lack of transportation, lack of funds, lack of education and by-laws and the constitution had to be written accordingly. The Jerusalem Patriachate was to prepare the clergy and attend to the needs of the Armenian community’s religious needs. All that has been drastically changed except for the same old, same old constitution.

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Even a cursory review will convince any interested soul that the Jerusalem Patriarchate has faced problem after prob- lem. Fight for power and prestige among the brotherhood members have been constant. The fate of our Jerusalem — conferred by Christians — including many Armenians — is far more than the fate and importance of our Holy Echmiadzin. To assume that the Jerusalem Patriarch is a monastic order, means only that we have simply abandoned this holy God-ordained gift of God.

For the longest time, the Jerusalem Patriarchate stood for piety and principle. Piety will remain unchanged forever. Principle however should have some “sacred cows” unchanged. But others need change in a changing world. The need for lay participation in Jerusalem affairs has become a “must” and that includes election of patriarchs as well.

One change could be the election of a co- adjutor now and appoint a committee con- sisting of clergy and lay to carefully study the old constitution and have a single delegate from every Armenian diocese in the world. To form an assembly to elect a patriarch and attend annual or by-annual convention to plan “future” Jerusalem for all Armenians.

These lay delegates would then present a “Jerusalem” item on their assemblies and all Armenians worldwide will be included in being more familiar and more interested in Jerusalem.

We all know that Jerusalem is unique in its historical, traditional, symbolic way and extremely important to all Jews, Christians and Muslims. God has destined us to own a parcel of the most valued soil on earth. It is therefore wrong and contrary to all Armenian interested to let a handful of brotherhood members have all the right to direct the present and future of this most precious gift for all Armenians on Earth.

May the light of God’s pure sun and grace inspire the members of the Brotherhood, to not only accept, but demand change as well.

(Nubar Dorian has served as a Diocesan delegate for Holy Cross Church, NJ.)

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