His Holiness Catholicos Aram I delivered his pontifical message to the Lebanese Armenian community on Sunday, September 5, following Divine Liturgy, celebrated at Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church of Bourdj Hamoud by His Grace Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Prelate of the Prelacy of the Western United States.
The Catholicos said that the people are not responsible for the current financial and economic crisis in Lebanon, but the representatives elected by the people. Presidents, prime ministers, and governments have led the country down this path, he said, adding that the Armenian community, with its key role in the life of Lebanon, will make itself heard and will defend its rights.
His Holiness lamented the current situation, saying it is even worse than the difficulties endured during the terrible days of the long-lasting civil war. He reaffirmed, however, that Lebanese Armenians, must remain attached to the country.
“The Armenians are and must continue to be responsible for their reorganization, to become great again,” he said. “We express our full appreciation to all those who in the last 40 years, during the crises faced by the Lebanese Armenians, gave their support to it.”
In his message, His Holiness said that the Catholicosate will always be there for the people who need it, “wherever there is a struggle for justice for our nation, wherever there is the demand to help our people.”
In this regard, he announced that the Holy See will continue to provide assistance to needy households in every part of the country, including $1 million in help to be distributed within the next two weeks.
He further said that the Catholicosate will provide $4 million for the construction of new houses in the Armenian quarter of Bourdj Hamoud, supporting a project developed by the local municipality.
The Catholicos also announced that all debts and obligations for the Fanar houses, a popular residential project built with support from the Catholicosate, would be condoned, granting the property to tenants.
He also said that fundraisers for the Armenian Prelacy of Lebanon will continue.
Schools also will get aid from the Holy See as they are a stronghold of Armenian identity. A new plan has been developed to support educational institutions, he said.
“Dear Lebanese Armenians, you are not a regular community and you must not become one,” the Catholicos said in his closing remarks. “We are with you in the full sense of the word: with renewed dedication, you will continue to play a central role in the life of the Armenian world… With this expectation I urge you once again not to despair and to be on the side of light, faith, and resolve.”