Making Jerusalem a place and sign of peace

By Harry Hagopian
November 11, 2016

Armenians worldwide are currently participating in the project for the restoration of the Tomb of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It has not been easy for the Churches of Jerusalem to get to this stage, nor has it been a romantic or fully transparent enterprise for them, but this event is viewed as much an encouragement of the ecumenical spirit as it is a motivation for pilgrimage. That spirit is particularly important at the moment, with the lesions of the world ever more evident.

HG Bishop Hovakim Manukyan, Primate, has kindly invited me to be guest speaker of the evening. As someone who hails from Jerusalem (Jordan) and who has just published The Armenian Church in the Holy Land, I am honoured. I am equally delighted that Fr Bared Yeritsian from St James's Convent (the Armenian patriarchate) in Jerusalem will also be with us and will talk to us about the mechanics of the restoration process.

Also there will be Palestinian Head of Mission Dr Manuel Hassassian (himself a native of Bethlehem) as well as Frs Anthony Ball and John Whooley.

Our prayer tonight is for peace in the Church and peace in the world.  A dear friend, the late Armenian patriarch Torkom II of Jerusalem, who helped guide me through my Oslo years in Jerusalem, often joked over a cup of brandy-laced and honey-rich tea that if people can get along in Jerusalem, they can get along anywhere.

In the words of HB Emeritus Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem, this Holy City is home for two peoples and three faiths. And that realisation leads us inexorably to the central tenet of our faith – one that that manifests itself by a two-millennia-old empty tomb in a cobwebby church.

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© Harry Hagopian is an international lawyer, ecumenist and EU political consultant. He also acts as a MENA and inter-faith advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. He is an Ekklesia associate and regular contributor (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/HarryHagopian). Formerly Executive Secretary of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Committee and Executive Director of the Middle East Council of Churches, he is now an international fellow, Sorbonne III University, Paris, and author of The Armenian Church in the Holy Land. Dr Hagopian’s own website is www.epektasis.net - follow him on Twitter here: @harryhagopian and on Facebook here: https://m.facebook.com/MENA.analysis/

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