Bishop Sahak Mashalian

Istanbul Patriarchate Elections to Be Held in December

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ISTANBUL (Armenpress) — Nearly five months since the passing of Mesrob II, the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople (Istanbul) has launched its organizational work to hold an election of a new patriarch.

A new patriarch will be elected by spiritual and secular delegates, who themselves are yet to be elected. The election of these delegates will take place on December 7 and 8. The patriarchate seeks to hold the election of a patriarch on December 11, and it has applied to the Ministry of Interior of Turkey through the Government of Istanbul Province with a request to confirm the dates, the patriarchate said on its social media account.

Mesrob II Mutafyan of Constantinople was the 84th Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople. He was elected patriarch in 1998, but ten years later was incapacitated due to Alzheimer’s disease. However, officially he remained patriarch.

He died on March 8, 2019 in hospital at the age of 62.

In this October 21, 2005 file photo, Patriarch Mesrob II, the spiritual leader of Turkey’s Armenian Orthodox community, holds his dog in Istanbul (Associated Press)

In July, the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople took a step towards the election of a new patriarch last week, when it chose Bishop Sahak Mashalian to fill the role of “locum tenens” or “placeholder” who will administer the Patriarchate until a new Armenian Patriarch is chosen.

The election of Bishop Mashalian was the result of a closed-door meeting of the patriarchal congregation on July 4, which was scheduled to follow the mourning period for the late

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In his role as locum tenens, Mashalian’s principle task will be to organize a patriarchal election, while managing the operations of the Patriarchate until then.

In remarks to the public following the July 4 meeting, he said: “The congregational assembly has chosen me as locum tenens by a majority of the votes. Now, the placeholder should order the election process, lead all ecclesiastical meetings, and ensure that the elections are held impartially. I am very grateful that my church brothers have shown this confidence in me, and I will try to be worthy of the trust given me by our clergy and people.”

The Istanbul native has previously served in the Armenian Church’s Jerusalem Patriarchate; in Armenia as dean of Holy Echmiadzin’s Kevorkian Seminary; and at the Istanbul Patriarchate as director of ecumenical and interfaith relations, and secretary of the Religious Council.

The election of an 85th Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople could take place before the end of the year—but the timeframe depends on the assent of political and religious authorities.

When the election is scheduled, Bishop Mashalian is expected to be among the candidates.

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