WASHINGTON, D.C. – In Defense of Christians (IDC), the nation’s leading advocacy organization for Christians and religious minorities in the Middle East, mourns the passing of Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II in Istanbul, Turkey.
The Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople composes 40,000 to 80,000 followers and is one of the four hierarchical seats of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Garo Paylan, an Armenian MP in Turkey, tweeted that “Patriarch Mutafyan will remain in our minds as a memorable spiritual leader.”
The Armenian Church will undergo a period of mourning for forty days before selecting a new patriarch. Patriarch Mesrob had been incapacitated since 2008 due to an early onset of dementia. The Turkish government prevented the Armenian patriarchate in Turkey from electing a successor to Patriarch Mesrob last year. The Turkish government has historically interfered in the election process of the Armenian Patriarchate and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
“IDC is committed to full equality for Christians and Churches in the Middle East. Churches should be able to select their own leaders without state interference.” said IDC President Toufic Baaklini.