It has been a sad week for the Armenian patriarchate of Jerusalem, following the death of the late Patriarch Torkom II.
Numerous messages of sorrow and many tributes have been made for him. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has written to the Vicar General of the Patriarchate to offer the Bishops' "heartfelt condolences".
In a letter to His Emminence Archbishop Nourhan Manoogian, Mgr Marcus Stock, General Secretary of the Bishops' Conference, paid tribute to "an admired and faithful leader of the Christian Church".
My own personal reflection as a CBCEW consultant on the Middle East North Africa region can be listened to and downloaded as a podcast here: http://www.catholicnews.org.uk/content/download/31372/223943/file/dr-hag...  It lasts around ten minutes.
Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams, who knew the late patriarch well and had met him on many occasions, sent a letter of condolence dated 18 October 2012. He wrote: "His Beatitude the late Patriarch Torkom Manougian was an exceptional figure both in the Armenian Church and in the wider Christian world, within and beyond the Holy Land."
"An intellectual, scholar, musician and poet, he was also a skilled statesman who represented all the most impressive aspects of the Armenian character and the Armenian tradition. He was hospitable and understanding to all, a careful and skilful analyst of the demanding situation in the Middle East, a thoughtful and eirenic presence in discussion and debate, and in and through all this, a faithful, loved and revered pastor to his flock. He played a key role in many aspects of the life of the Armenian diaspora, but will be remembered most vividly by countless pilgrims to Jerusalem for his warm welcome and wise counsel during his long years as Patriarch of this ancient see. He will be deeply missed by Christians of all traditions and by many others too."
"We assure our Armenian brothers and sisters of our sympathy and prayers at this time, and pray especially for the community in Jerusalem and for you, dear Archbishop Nourhan, as you oversee the funeral rites of the Patriarch and the business of the Patriarchate," concluded Dr Williams.
© Harry Hagopian is an international lawyer, ecumenist and EU political consultant. He also acts as a Middle East and inter-faith advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and as Middle East consultant to ACEP (Christians in Politics) in Paris. He is an Ekklesia associate and regular contributor (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/HarryHagopian ). Formerly an 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, consultant to the Campaign for Recognition of the Armenian Genocide (UK), Ecumenical consultant to the Primate of Armenian Church in UK & Ireland, and author of The Armenian Church in the Holy Land. Dr Hagopian’s own website is www.epektasis.net