The long-expected end finally arrived for Archbishop Mesrob Mutafyan on March 8, at St. Purgich Hospital, where he had been in a vegetative state for more than a decade.
To say that he had suffered much in his short life is an understatement. He was an erudite scholar and an independent-minded member of the clergy. He influenced Istanbul Armenian life during his active years and even later, when he had lost contact with the world around him.
Prominent Armenian writer and editor Robert Hadedjian rightfully remarked that he impacted community life more when he lay unconscious than when he was in full command of his mind and body, because so many controversies arose as a result of his incapacitation.
He occupied a twilight zone for the Armenians in Turkey; he was not well enough to tend to his responsibilities as the spiritual leader of the community, nor was he dead to allow the cutting of the Gordian knot and enable the election of a successor.
The community went through hell to figure out a succession plan, and the Turkish government did its best to scuttle any progress in that arena.
Archbishop Mutafyan was elected to the Patriarchal throne in Istanbul on October 14, 1998 and for more than 10 years, he served his community with dedication, developing ecumenical ties with other communities and faiths.