Prelate’s April 24 Message – (Delivered at St. Mary’s Church in Glendale, April 23, 2014)

Dear faithful,

On this solemn day, we have gathered here to join in prayer for the souls of our martyrs and to renew and reaffirm our pledge to persevere in our cause undeterred, until we reach a just resolution of recognition, reparations, and justice.

A few days ago we celebrated the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the supreme triumph of good over evil, of life over death.  Christ conquered death, and with His Resurrection bestowed the promise of new life and salvation, a promise the Armenian nation was the first to embrace.

99 years have passed since the Turks, in the shadow of World War I, sought to annihilate the Armenian people from the face of the earth.  They massacred one and a half million of our ancestors, but they failed in their ultimate mission, for here we are today, resurrected from the ashes, and here we will always be.

Through the most harrowing of times, our ancestors clung to our faith, even choosing to die as Christians rather than live with the pain of renouncing their faith.   And so, they carried the yoke of our Lord to their own Golgotha, the searing heat of Der Zor, where their fate was sealed.  On that same desert sand, our survivors incredibly sustained their will to live and reaffirmed their faith in the hope of the Resurrection.  It was this same hope that helped us to rebuild and persevere, and gave us the strength to fight for our rights.

From Avarayr until the present day, the Armenian people have endured untold hardship, have been subjected to countless invasions, massacres, exile; but death could not defeat our spirit of survival.

Today, the successors of Talat and Enver continue their genocidal ambitions, exploiting the war in Syria to further their agenda by sponsoring rebel groups to attack the Armenian community, as in the raid of Kessab.   Yes, they wreaked havoc and destruction, desecrated churches and looted homes; but again, we did not fall.

99 years have passed, but the injustice done to our people and the memory of our martyrs lives on, still fresh in our minds, reminding us to never falter in our duty and promise to them.  Martyred as witnesses to our faith and heritage, in death they gained immortality, and their undying spirit inspired and continues to inspire us in the pursuit of our just cause.  Reiterating the message of His Holiness Aram I, we avow that “the Armenian Cause is the cause of each Armenian individual and of the Armenian nation as a whole.  And so, each and every one of us is called to actively support efforts aimed at the attainment of our rights. We are at the threshold of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, and commemorative events are already being planned internationally.  The perpetrators have also begun their false counter campaign. The year 2015 should not be regarded as any other in our history. Rather, it should be distinguished by such activities and undertakings that it leaves a lasting impression and gives new energy to the pursuit of our cause. The motto of centennial commemorations must be REMEMBER, REMIND, and DEMAND”.

For 99 years we have remembered our martyrs, with tears, candles, and prayers, and continually reminded the world that the perpetrators of the first Genocide of the 20th century have gone unpunished.  We are thankful to the nations and states that have recognized the Armenian Genocide as the irrefutable fact that it is.  It is high time that the United States government does the same.  Furthermore, we believe that the time will come, sooner than later, when Turkey will face its past and take responsibility for its action.

But we must go further, asserting our demands and claiming our rights.

We will demand our ancestral lands.

We will demand our individual and community properties, our monasteries and churches.

We will demand compensation for the price our martyrs paid with their blood.

We will move forward from recognition to reparation, in accordance with international law.

And so, dear faithful, today is a day of pilgrimage.  The spirit of our martyrs calls us on us

(1) to remember them and keep their memory alive eternally

(2) to remind the world of our just and honorable cause

(3) and to keep demanding until we obtain that which is rightfully ours

With these hopes and expectations, let us join together and pray for God’s mercy upon the souls of our beloved martyrs, for His protection upon our homeland and people, and for His peace to be upon the world.

May peace be restored in Syria especially, so that our compatriots can resume their lives and begin the process of rebuilding and restoring our historic lands to their former glory.

Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian
Prelate, Western United States

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