The G20 Interfaith Forum in 2021 brought together in Bologna (Italy) many religious, political and civic leaders from different countries for three-day deliberations on September 12-14.
His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Pontifical Legate of the Western Europe and the Representative of the Armenian Apostolic Church, was invited to deliver his remarks in this forum.
Archbishop Barsamian’s panel presentation on Christian Ecumenism referred to the ecumenical movement as a model for dialogue, dwelling on the multilayer history of inter-Christian theological and philosophical debates, and sometimes even violent clashes throughout centuries that have eventually reached a place of dialogue. At present, in his words, the movement has dismantled the walls of isolation and opened the gates towards unity with dialogue, cooperation, understanding, and veneration for one other.
Archbishop Barsamian invited the audience’s attention in particular on the many centuries-old ecumenical spirit of the Armenian Church. He mentioned that the Armenian Church tradition is not a tradition of isolation and seclusion, and in fact Armenian people’s history knows no acute division between East and West.
Archbishop Barsamian discussed at length the legacy and teaching of one of the most visionary catholicoi of the Armenian Church — St. Nerses the Gracious (Shnorhali) (1166-1173) who governed the Armenian Church during the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia on the shores of the Mediterannean. “The writings of Nerses Catholicos can serve as vitally important guidelines for ecumenical cooperation, church unity, and especially the spirit of tolerance” Archbishop Barsamian remarked.
The Archbishop concluded his presentation by expressing hope for international peace and dialogue among nations: “I believe that some of the historical and contemporary experiences of Christian Ecumenism can definitely serve as a model bringing different faiths and cultures for a dialogue to accomplish the process of healing and establish peace in the world”.
In the margins of this year’s G20 Interfaith Forum, which concluded on September 14, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian had meetings with His All-Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, who was also invited to speak in one of the forums. Archbishop Barsamian conveyed brotherly greetings of His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians to the Ecumenical Patriarch.