On Saturday 25th January, the Armenian President Armen Sarkissian, in Jerusalem after having taken part in the World Holocaust Forum, visited the Armenian Patriarchate with his wife, Nouneh Sarkissian. The heads of the Churches of Jerusalem were also present for a private meeting.
On this occasion, the President and his wife visited St James’ Cathedral and the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem to meet the Patriarch, His Beatitude Nourhan Manougian. "The visit by the President was encouraging for Jerusalem’s Armenian community,” said the Armenian Patriarch. "The President clearly anticipated, in his message, that Armenia is opening an embassy in Tel Aviv to provide support for the Armenian Patriarchate and assistance for the community in the Holy Land."
The President then attended a reception where a representation of the Armenian community and the Christian religious of the Holy Land were also present, invited by the Armenian Patriarch, Nourhan Manougian. The Custos Fr. Francesco Patton was in attendance on behalf of the Custody of the Holy Land.
During the meeting, the Armenian Patriarch and the President recalled that their history also speaks of genocide, stressing that what happened has to be remembered to avoid it happening again. Both underlined the importance of remembering the past, because we live in a society where these phenomena based on racial intolerance are resurfacing and increasing. The presence in Israel for the commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Holocaust is very important for the Armenian President, in order to show that, although Israel does not officially recognize the Armenian genocide, the President of Armenia took part in the Israeli celebrations.
The current President was the first ambassador of Armenia to the Holy See and developed excellent relations with Pope St John Paul II. He organized the Pope’s first visit to Armenia in 2001 and, as Ambassador, made a great contribution to implementing various projects in the Vatican, such as an exhibition on Armenia inside the walls of the Vatican. "He has great experience in working with the heads of Churches,” said the Patriarch, “we can be sure that he will be able to continue his work with the heads of the Churches of the Holy Land."