ISTANBUL — Bishop Sahak Mashalian was elected the 85th Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople today.

Mashalian was elected by special delegates composed of representatives of both the clergy and secular circles, who in turn were elected by the patriarchate’s synod and the local Armenian community of Istanbul respectively.

Mashalian’s only competitor for the post, Patriarchal Vicar Archbishop Aram Ateshyan, has congratulated the new patriarch.

“As the senior member of the clergy class at the Constantinople See, I wish that  the unity and fraternity of Turkish-Armenian life would be restored in this new era. It is our prayer that a thriving new period will be opened before this age-old Patriarchate and that its mission will be enriched with new achievements, in the exaltation of our Holy Church and the benefit of our people,” Ateshyan wrote in his Facebook page.

In his first patriarchal address, Bishop Mashalian said with joy that the Armenians of Turkey finally had a father. He expressed gratitude to all those who contributed to this journey, thanked the Catholicos of All Armenians and the Turkish authorities, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Interior Minister Suleyman Soilu, and Istanbul Governor Ali Jerlaya. According to the newly elected Patriarch, this is the beginning of a new phase for the Armenian community – a period of peace and unity.

The position of the Patriarch was vacant after Mesrob II passed away in March, 2019. Mesrob Mutafyan was elected the 84th Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople on 14 October, 1998. In 2008, the patriarchate announced that Mesrob II was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. He withdrew from all his duties and public life, but formally remained the Patriarch. Mesrob II was incapacitated and appeared in a comatose state, which led to the synod retiring him in an effort to hold new elections, something Turkish authorities were not in favor of.

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