His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan invited the Heads of Christian Communities in the Middle East to meet in Amman from 3-4 September 2013 to discuss the challenges they are facing as a result of the conflicts in the region.
His Holiness Aram I appointed Archbishops Sebouh Sarkissian, Prelate of Armenians in Iran, and Nareg Alemezian, the Ecumenical Officer, to represent him and read his message.
After thanking the King for the initiative, His Holiness Aram I stated that he regretted the absence of Muslim Religious Leaders. Catholicos Aram I then identified some issues for the consideration of the participants:
1. Referring to the theme of the gathering “Challenges that Christians are facing today,” the Catholicos said that the challenges arising from the conflicts affected everyone in the region, because the people of the Middle East are one.
2. As one of the Presidents of the Middle East Council of Churches, he said that although historically Christians have sometimes disagreed on theological issues, they have always had a common mind on basic issues.
3. The moral and ethical values of Christians and Muslims, as two Monotheistic religions, are rooted in similar principles, which transcend political tensions.
4. Christians and Muslims have lived in mutual recognition and respect for centuries; their basic principles are founded on their common Monotheistic religious roots. Today, religious communities should not emphasize differences and incite mistrust and fear.
5. Referring to the centuries-long history and experiences of Armenians in Armenia, Cilicia and the Middle East, he acknowledged that there have been dark moments such as the 1915 Genocide of the Ottoman Turkey against the Armenians. However, he stated, the tragic series of events surrounding the genocide were due not to religious conflict, but to the imperialistic ambitions of the Ottomans. Lebanon today is a vibrant example where 18 communities, including that of the Armenians, continue living together.
6. Catholicos Aram I then identified the principles that should guide religious communities in the Middle East: a) Living one’s own faith does not mean excluding the other, the neighbour of another faith. b) No religion commends violence in any form. c) Religions should not mix political goals and aspirations. d) Mutual respect expressed through dialogue is rooted in the two religions.
7. In conclusion, His Holiness Aram I said, “Christians belong to the Middle East and are part of its history. They have contributed to its culture and civilization and have served as a bridge between East and West. Christians in the Middle East are committed to dialogue and peaceful coexistence; they are aware of their responsibilities and rights.”