SYDNEY, Australia — The Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Australia and New Zealand Archbishop Aghan Baliozian died on September 22. He was an eminent leader of the Armenian Church.
Baliozian had been in poor health over the past few years and had recently entered Sydney’s leading the Royal North Shore Hospital, for treatment. His loss is particularly acute, coming at a time when the diaspora church is facing crucial challenges on so many fronts.
Ever since the incapacitation of the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, Baliozian has been touted as a possible contender to succeed him at the Jerusalem See, considered the second most important spiritual center for Armenians all over the world, after the mother church at Echmiadzin.
He was born in Aleppo, Syria, where Armenian Genocide survivors had found a safe haven. Around the time he was born, World War II had just ended and the city was still wallowing in the misery of deprivation and starvation, a calamity that is now again being visited on its inhabitants.
Early in his youth, Baliozian had felt stirrings of a deep spiritual yearning and this led him to Jerusalem, where he enrolled as a student of theology at the Armenian Patriarchate’s seminary. At the age of 22, he was ordained a celibate priest.