His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, paid a historic Pontifical First Visit to Mexico on Monday October 30, 2017.
His Holiness was accompanied by His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, His Eminence, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America. His Grace Bishop Arshak Khachatryan, Chancellor of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, the Very Rev. Fr. Sasoon Dz. V. Zumrookhdian, the Vicar of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Mexico, the Very Rev. Fr. Karekin Hambardzumiyan, the Dean of the Gevorkian Seminary, the Rev. Fr. Adam Makaryan, Diocesan Benefactor Mr. Sinan Dinanian and Diocesan council chair Joseph Kanimian, Esq. Mr. Asadour Sarafian and Dr. Vardan Mateodian, His Holiness’ translator.
Also accompanying His Holiness were member of the Television and Media Department of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin Mania Ghazaryan, Suren Ter-Grigoryan and the Western Diocese Aram Mousounian. “On behalf of the Armenian people, we have come to express our solidarity and condolences to the people of Mexico whose hearts were shattered as a result of the September earthquakes”, said His Holiness.
His Holiness also met with members of the Armenian-Mexican community, the descendants of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide (1915-1923) perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire, which left one and a half million dead.
The Pontiff and his delegation also visited the Memory and Tolerance Museum of Mexico City, where His Holiness expressed confidence that the Mexican people will overcome “all the catastrophes”, in reference to the earthquakes of September 7th and 19, which left 471 dead. “This corner in the museum shows the sheer horror experienced by the Armenian people from 1915 to 1923. However, the Armenian Genocide corner of the Memory and Tolerance Museum demonstrates the resilience of the people. Please accept my genuine gratitude for creating this little corner,” said Karekin II, saying that education is the best way to prevent the recurrence of genocide.
As a token of his gratitude and commendation, the Catholicos of All Armenians presented the Museum with a silver cross.
Dr. Jose Sarukhan, former director of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), said the presence of the Armenian Catholicos is “an exceptional date” for Mexico and for the descendants of the Armenian diaspora.
Son of Armenian parents, Dr. Sarukhan, highlighted the invaluable role that His Holiness Karekin II played in his homeland during the 1988 earthquake that left 25,000 dead.
The Undersecretary of Population, Migration and Religious Affairs of the Secretary of the Interior of Mexico, Humberto Roque, told that the Pontiff’s visit “is of great importance” for the country. “We have a very prominent Armenian community in Mexico and we are grateful for His Holiness’ visit,” said Roque.
The Catholicos of All Armenians also presided over an ecumenical service in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico in memory of the victims of the earthquakes with the participation of Monsignor Franco Coppola, Apostolic Nuncio of Mexico, His Eminence Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, Archbishop of Mexico City, His Eminence Bishop George Saad Abi Younes, Eparch of the Maronite Diocese of Mexico, Rev. Father Edgar Valtierra, Pastor Daniel Conrad of the Lutheran Church, Fr. Antonio Sanchez — Melkie Greek Catholic Church, Bishop Ignacio Saaman of the Orthodox Church of Antioch, Pastor Samuel Murillo of the Methodist Church, Archbishop Antonio Alejo of the Orthodox Church of America, Monsignor Dr. Enrique Glennie Graue, Rector of the Basilica of Guadalupe and Bishop Carlos Briseno, President of the Ecumenical Commission of Mexico.
His Holiness and his delegation also visited the Basilica of Guadalupe, the largest Catholic Church in Mexico. The Pontiff of the Armenian Apostolic Church also met with the Mayor of Mexico City, Miguel Angel Mancera, and participated in a religious ceremony in the Cathedral.
In the evening, His Excellency Ara Aivazian, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to Mexico hosted a His Holiness at the Armenian Embassy. On behalf of the Armenian community, made up of 3,000 people, Ambassador Aivazian presented His Holiness an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.