THE ARMENIAN COMMUNITY IN THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES GREETS HIS HOLINESS ARAM I
AT THE ST. GREGORY THE ILLUMINATOR ARMENIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
On Friday 30 January 2009, the Armenian Community in Sharja (UAE) welcomed His Holiness Aram I at the St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Orthodox Church.
�We should not only build churches, but we should become the Church� was the theme of his pastoral message. In his message he spoke of the importance of making the church a community; a place where love and hope becomes the vocation of each member. He reminded the community �every child is committed to this vocation through his/her Baptism when the God Father takes the oath to lead the child in �Faith, Hope and Love�. He then continued �we must re-own and express this commitment through our family life, in schools and as a community. By teaching faith, love and hope, Jesus showed us the way to God, and the way to live out God�s command in this world. Through Baptism every Christian becomes a member of the Body of Christ, which is the Church. Therefore, Christians cannot remain outside the church because they are the church. The church is not only the building, the church is the reflection of christian life expressed through its members individually and collectively, as the community of faith, love and hope in this world.
At the end of the message His Holiness met the members of the community.
On Monday 2 February 2009 His Holiness Aram I delivered a lecture in American university of Sharjah. The topic of the lecture was �From Inter-religious dialogue to living together�.
Introducing His Holiness, the President of the University Dr. Peter Heat presented him as an internationally recognized personality in the area of inter-religious dialogue.
Aram I first referred to the �come-back� of religion as a fact of life. He then spoke about different perceptions of religion.
Speaking about the importance of dialogue, he said that a credible dialogue must take into consideration the following.- 1) It must make room for different perceptions, values and expressions. 2) It must be realistic. 3) It must be contextual. 4) It must explore ways of transcending differences. 5) It must challenge biased attitudes, face-value judgments and provide greater knowledge, accurate information. 6) It must avoid syncretistic approaches, false compromises and exclusivist claims. 7) It must consider diversity as a complementing rather than a conflicting factor.
Catholicos Aram set the following priorities as an agenda for a serious dialogue. These are.- 1) promoting spiritual and moral values. 2) Elaborating a global ethics. 3) Overcoming violence by developing a culture of non-violence. 4) Combating intolerance. 5) Working for peace with justice. 6) Acting as agents of reconciliation.
The focus of the lecture was living together as community. His Holiness outlined the following actions as prerequisite conditions for community building.- 1) Accepting and respecting our differences. 2) Enhancing common values that transform co-existence into a meaningful way of living together. 3) Challenging inclusive approaches and fundamentalist tendencies and claims that jeopardize living together, and enhancing coherence between self-understanding and interactive understanding. 4) Promoting a quality of life that rejects alienation and calls for mutual trust. 5) Encouraging participation in all aspects of community life. 6) Aiming for a form of integration that preserves specificities fosters commonalities.
In his concluding remarks, referring to the vocation of religion Catholicos Aram I underscored the following points.- 1) The religions have a moral responsibility to restore humanity-creation-God relationship based on responsibility accountability. 2) Religions must emphasize the crucial importance of the Transcendence in the life of societies. 3) Religions must defend the sacredness of life by promoting values that protect the integrity of life. 4) Religions must bring active participation in peace-building. Real peace is based on justice and respect of human rights. 5) Religions are called to play a major role in preventive approaches to conflicts, and also in proactive defense of human rights through education and awareness building. 6) And finally religions must remind that all mighties are powerless before the Almighty.