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His Holiness Aram I met with Syria’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Badr al-Din Hassoun in his Damascus headquarters on Wednesday.

Welcoming the Armenian Pontiff, the Mufti of the Republic recalled his visit to Antelias and the long-standing friendship that ties him to His Holiness Aram I. The Mufti spoke about the important role of the Catholicosate of Cilicia in the ecumenical and Christian-Muslim dialogue spheres. The Mufti said: “Catholicos Aram I has played an important role in this regard and we are confident he will continue with renewed efforts, becoming the translator of Christian-Muslim coexistence in the Middle East.” His Holiness praised the positive efforts of the Mufti to give a push to Christian-Muslim dialogue in Syria and the Middle East generally. His Holiness also stressed the importance of spiritual and moral values in the life of society and the mission of religions in this respect.

Attending the meeting alongside His Holiness was a delegation, which included the Primate of the Diocese of Aleppo Bishop Shahan Sarkisian, Deputy Sounboul Sounboulian, Chairman of the Lay Council of the Diocese of Aleppo Mr. Daron Avedissian, Mr. Levon Yedalian, Mr. Zareh Poladian, Mr. George Tufekdjian and Mr. Hovig Terterian, Mr. Harout Vartanian from Der-Zor, the representative of the Catholicosate of Cilicia in Damascus Mr. Mesrob Shirinian, Mr. Noubar Melikian from Damascus and staff-bearer Father Mesrob Sarkisian.

After the official meeting, His Holiness and the Mufti of the Republic held a private meeting. Bishop Shahan Sarkisian was also present.

In the evening, His Holiness organized an Iftar in honor of the Mufti. All the Christian and Muslim spiritual Leaders of Syria, high-level community and political officials, the Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia Dr. Arrshag Poladian, Primate Bishop Sarkisian, members of the Diocese’s Political Assembly from Damascus and other community members were invited to the luncheon.

In his address to the attendants, His Holiness said: “In Islamic tradition Iftar is an opportunity for self examination. It is a call to the Muslim faithful to embrace spiritual and moral values just as the 40-day Lent preceding the resurrection of Christ is an opportunity for the Christian man to open up to moral and spiritual values.”

Then Aram I said: “Christianity and Islam are based on the principles and values of love, justice, peace, mercy and tolerance. These values are not theories. They are relevant to our everyday life and our two monotheistic religions attach great importance to them. Let us not forget that religion is not a combination of teachings or philosophical ideas. Religion is a quality of life, a way of living in which God is a constant presence. God is not only the creator of life, but also its pivot and purpose”.

Concluding his remarks, Catholicos Aram I said: “Today’s world, its conflicts and its difficulties, challenge us to get involved more deeply and seriously in frank dialogue, in building together to mutual respect and understanding community in which we can live together as neighbors”.

Responding the Pontiff’s address, the Mufti of the Republic emphasized the importance of spiritual and moral values. He welcomed His Holiness’ strong emphasis on living together as neighbors, reminding that Middle East is a concrete example in this respect. He praised His Holiness Catholicos Aram I’s important role in international circles, in the context of strengthening mutual understanding and collaboration among religions and cultures.


The Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia is one of the two Catholicosates of the Armenian Orthodox Church. Its jurisdiction extends over the Armenian Communities in the Middle East, Europe and North and South America. The Catholicosate, the administrative center of the church is located in Antelias, Lebanon. /// Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia - Communication and Information Department.
Contact: V. Rev. Fr. Krikor Chiftjian, Communications Officer.

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