NEW YORK – The Diocesan Council issued its first communication on April 30 concerning the upcoming election of the Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern). Diocesan Council Chair James M. Kalustian, the signatory of this communication, confirmed to the Mirror on April 30 that this letter, addressed to the Diocesan clergy, Assembly delegates and parish council chairs, represented the result of its recent deliberations and its recommendations to the Assembly meeting which will take place only a few days later.
The letter notes that on April 25, longtime Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian unexpectedly announced the withdrawal of his candidacy for the election of the Primate. After intensive and frequent meetings and deliberations, the Council prepared its recommendations, which it is proffering to the upcoming Assembly. The Council both studied the Diocesan Bylaws and consulted with Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II.
As background, Kalustian noted that the Council had provided a slate of three candidates to the Assembly, of whom, two now have resigned (in addition to Archbishop Barsamian, Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian), leaving Fr. Oshagan Gulgulian as the sole remaining candidate for office. Kalustian remarked that the Diocesan Bylaws “do not provide clear direction under the specific circumstances we face.”
He stated that though the Diocesan Council was not precluded by the bylaws from adding names to the ballot at this time, it would be “inappropriate” given the 30-day-notice requirement for candidates ordinarily nominated by the Council. A second way to potentially add new candidates would be through a petition process, which requires the signatures of at least 20 Diocesan delegates submitted to the Assembly prior to the May 4 election.
However, the Council recommends that the election be postponed “in order to give time to thoughtfully prepare a slate of candidates for the Assembly.” A new one-day special Assembly could be convened at the Diocesan Center in New York.
In the meantime, to fill the position which will become vacant upon the expiration of Archbishop Barsamian’s term on May 7, the Diocesan Council will, in accordance with the bylaws, elect a locum-tenens from among the clergy of the Diocese. The locum-tenens would assume the duties of the Primate until one is duly elected within 30 days of the vacancy.