ISTANBUL — A Turkish tribunal has confirmed a medical diagnosis that Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople Mesrob II Mutafyan is no longer capable of making his own decisions because of advancing dementia, and a guardian should be appointed to handle his duties.

Patriarch Mesrob has been suffering for years from Alzheimer’s disease, and since 2008 a patriarchal vicar has been handling the daily affairs of the Armenian Church in Constantinople. But other Armenian prelates have been reluctant to elect a successor while the Patriarch is alive.

In November 2014, during his trip to Turkey, Pope Francis made an unscheduled private visit to meet with Patriarch Mesrob. The Armenian prelate’s physical health, as well as his mental condition, has reportedly been deteriorating since that time.

In July 2008, it was announced that Mesrob Mutafyan was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and has since withdrawn from all his duties and from public life; however he still officially remains patriarch and archbishop.

Archbishop Aram Atesyan, who is from Diyarbakir, is running the day-to-day affairs of the Patriarchate after being appointed as Patriarchal Vicar of Constantinople with 25 of the 26 members of the Religious Council voting for him and awaiting the official election of a new Patriarch. But there has been public dissent about his temporary appointment including mass resignation of the acting Finance Committee of the Patriarchate.

An official communiqué confirmed on January 14, 2011 that the Patriarch was suffering from Frontal temporal degenerative dementia, and that his physical and mental situation had deteriorated very rapidly.

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