Wednesday, September 29, 2021


 The Armenian Catholic Catholicos (or patriarch), Grégoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan, died in May. Electing his successor turned out to be something of an ordeal; the twelve or so Armenian Catholic bishops deadlocked over who was to be the successor, with no one getting the require two-thirds vote. So they turned to the Roman See, and last week they gathered in Rome under the auspices of the Pope to try again, and succeeded. Raphaël Pierre XXI Minassian is the new Armenian Catholic patriarch. He was born in Beirut, but among the many different ecclesial positions he's had, he spent an extended period in the United States as pastor.

As I've noted before, the history of Armenian Catholicism is massively tangled. But the current Armenian Catholic Patriarchate of Cilicia was formed in 1749 when Abraham Petros I Ardzivian, an Armenian Orthodox bishop who had converted to Catholicism and was eventually elected as Catholicos by a community of Armenian Catholics, was recognized as Patriarch by Pope Benedict XIV, who was faced with the difficulty of what to do with a large number of very different and independent Catholic communities of former Armenian Orthodox. For over a hundred years there had been little communities of Armenian Orthodox seeking communion with Rome, and they had begun to be difficult to keep track of. It's not a large church, as these things go; there are currently about seven hundred to eight hundred thousand Armenian Catholics in the world, with perhaps about thirty or forty thousand of those in the United States.