AB Minassian on Armenian presence in Georgia

2016-09-30 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Archbishop Raphael Minassian hopes that the Papal visit to Azerbaijan and Georgia will promote peace in the region. The small Catholic community in Georgia, which Pope Francis is visiting on Friday and Saturday, is made up of Latin, Chaldean and Armenian rites.

The Armenian presence in Tbilisi and the region on the border with the republic of Armenia dates back to the 4th century. Today the community is under the care of the Ordinary for Armenians in Eastern Europe, Archbishop Raphael Minassian.

Ahead of the Pope’s trip to Georgia, the Archbishop talked to Philippa Hitchen about the relationship of the Armenian community between Azerbaijan and Georgia. 

Listen:

Archbishop Raphael Minassian discusses the history of Armenians in Georgia: “The relationship with this country is very old and very constant because Tbilisi was the culture and the city of the Armenians for centuries. It is very normal to see the presence of the Armenians in this country.” He says that the presence in Georgia, “of Armenians is over 200,000 and Armenian Catholics are over 150,000.”

The Archbishop says that the Armenian community in Georgia can act as a bridge for peaceful relations. “In the relationship between the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches, the friendship remains as a base of all kinds of relations.” He also mentions that the Georgian government has been assisting the Catholic Churches, the Chaldean, Latin, and Armenian Catholics, for two years.

Although the Armenian community and the Georgian government are able to maintain a positive relationship, the Archbishop admits that they do experience problems. He says that “Both of them are working strongly for the propaganda of faith and the consolation that we have to encourage and accept it. Even if we are not working together we should work for the same case.” He also says that they are proud to be Christians in this country.

Archbishop Minassian says that Pope Francis has a hard situation on his shoulders: “He is obliged to work with a society where they preach liberty and they are in the situation of domination. They speak about rights and they are the people that strip the rights of human society and at the end if I were to say the word peace, they are the war makers. I am talking about presidents, kings, societies, governments, and all of these, the Holy Father has to pass by and say the reality, defend the rights, defend the liberty, and give peace to everybody. We lost the meaning of these three words and have to rebuild again.”

The Archbishop discusses his thoughts on the Pope’s appeal for peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan: “You know, in a way they used the religion for political issues and the possibility to have peace is very easy. The most important point is between the two nations or the two presidents who have to forget the people because they are the minority of the minorities that are leading the country. I think that if you take out all of the governments all of the people would live in peace.” 

Although the governments are taking steps towards peace, the Archbishop hopes that more can be done. “There is work going on for peace, but I hope that also in the visit of his Holiness to Azerbaijan would encourage them also accept the realities because all of us in this world are passengers. No one owns anything in this Earth. So it is not useful to have these wars between people that can live peacefully and very happily.”

(from Vatican Radio)