Ecumenical relations between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic Church are continuing to progress as the Vatican announced today that a high-level leader from the Armenian Church will visit the Pope.
His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia of the Armenians, whose See is located in the Lebanese town of Antelias, is scheduled to make an official visit to the Pope and the Church of Rome from November 23-27.
As Catholicos of Cilicia, Aram I presides over a large sector of the Armenian Apostolic Church which includes Syria, Cyprus, Iran, Greece and Lebanon. The term "Catholicos" is used in the Armenian Apostolic Church to refer to the chief bishop of a region.
In May of this year, Pope Benedict XVI received Karekin II, the head of the whole Armenian Apostolic Church and held discussions about the necessity of prayer for increasing unity amongst Christians.
The upcoming visit by Catholicos Aram I will begin with a visit to St. Peter's Basilica and the tomb of Pope John Paul II on the morning of Monday, November 24.
Following his visit to the late Pope’s tomb, Aram I will visit the Patio of St. Gregory the Illuminator to pay homage to the saint considered to be the apostle of the Armenian Apostolic Church. He will subsequently be received in audience by Benedict XVI.
On November 26, the Catholicos, his entourage, and a group of around 50 Armenian lay people who have come to Rome for the visit will attend the weekly general audience that Pope Benedict XVI holds each Wednesday.
The Catholicos also has other important events on his schedule including attending a liturgy on Monday at the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, which will be led by Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of the basilica.
On Tuesday, he will attend Vespers in the basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Isola Tiberina in Rome, where he will offer a relic of Armenian martyrs. Later the same day he will participate in a prayer meeting at the basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, a communiqué from the Vatican press office says.
Aram I will also participate in an academic ceremony to be held in his honor at the Pontifical Urban University, and meet with Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and other officials of that dicastery.