Bishop Khajag Barsamian has assumed office as resentative of the Apostolic Armenian Church to the Holy See. His appointment is intended to strengthen friendship between the two entities.
Archbishop Barsamian, 67, was Primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church diocese in the United States from 1990 to 2018. With the appointment, he becomes the point man in Rome for any matter concerning the Armenian Apostolic Church.
His work will be that of a liaison between the Holy See and the Apostolic Church, smoothing dialogue in both theological and pragmatic issues.
His official title is “Pontifical Legate of Western Europe and Representative of the Armenian Church to the Holy See.” Catholicos Karekin II, the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, informed Pope Francis of the appointment with a letter.
According to Barsamian, Pope Francis “expressed his happiness about this appointment and indicated that my presence in Rome would further strengthen the relationship between the Catholic and the Armenian churches.”
Barsamian told the Catholic News Agency that he is “honored and excited to be taking up this role at this time.”
“My objective in my new role will be in part to expand existing projects, programs and activities, in order to draw the two churches closer together in a spirit of mutual respect and collaborative mission,” he added.
A few days after arriving in Rome, he met with Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.
“Cardinal Koch expressed his support for my new mission in Rome,” Barsamian said. “We had a very constructive discussion of ideas and projects to further strengthen the relationship between our two churches.”
Among Barsamian’s commitments is that of reinforcing the Armenian presence in Europe.
He added that “It will be important to develop Armenian Church parish life where communities can come together in prayer, participate in the sacrament of the Eucharist, and organize educational, cultural and social activities.”
“Likewise, I would like to help Armenian Church communities develop strong ecumenical and interfaith activities,” the Bishp added.