Following the death of the last Armenian Patriarch of Turkey, Mesrop II Mutafyan on July 4, 2019 the Patriarchal election process started with the appointment of Bishop Sahak Mashalyan as “Deghabah” (Patriarchal Locum Tenens) for leading the process related to elect the 85th Armenian Patriarch of Turkey. The Patriarchal elections came to end on Wednesday December 11, 2019 Wednesday at the Virgin Mary Cathedral and the Deghabah Bishop Sahak Mashalyan was elected taking 102 pros and 16 cons votes.
85. Patriarch Sahak Mashalyan, after his election entered solemnly into the Patriarchal cathedral with the hymn of “Hrashapar”. He first went to the altar of the church where he prayed for a while. Then he made a speech in the place prepared for him. This first speech of the Patriarch was in Armenian and here he expressed, in brief, his joy for being elected as a patriarch and his gratitude to all those who worked on his behalf and the voters, and in the second part of his speech, he explained the important place that the church and Jesus Christ should occupy in our lives. He thanked all the delegates who elected him and who did not, and prayer for God’s power, strength and wisdom in this new mission. Then he sat in his seat and the cross-kissing ceremony was held. So, the task of the civilian Delegates’ Assembly which was formed for one day work with the purpose of electing the Patriarch officially ended with the ceremony of cross-kissing. The elected Patriarch Mashalyan then went to his room with hymns, being accompanied by the clergy
He received the congratulation messages and visitors
Seda Ayse Caymaz from the Department of Communications of the Presidency of the Republic, the Archbishop of the Armenian Catholic Church Kerabayzar Levon Zekiyan, President of Surp Prgiç Armenian Hospital and Foundation Bedros Sirinoglu and many other notable people for the Armenian Community, such as Dr. Toros Alcan, Hayk Aslanyan, Irma Polat, Dr. Ardaş Akdağ and İskender Şahingöz paid courtesy visits. The Elected Patriarch Sahak Mashalyan, after his speech also organized a press conference at 17:00 where he answered questions. At 17:30 he entered solemnly into the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Virgin Mary as the elected Patriarch, with bells and again Hrashapar hymn. After his prayer in front of the altar, he addressed his first words to the community. Archbishop Aram Atesyan, Archbishop Levon Zekiyan, clerics and a big crowd of community also witnessed this historic moment. In his speech in Armenian and then in Turkish, Patriarch Mashalyan said, “You cannot manage even a shop without a leader. 12 years ago, in 2008, our Patriarch got sick and has been in the state of coma. Of course, having a vacant Patriarchal see since then has had serious consequences. Imagine, Children who were 10 years old that time, are 22 years old now. Children who were 8 years old that time voted in these elections. These generations grew up without seeing a Patriarch. So, the election was very important to us. Elections are often held in discussions. There are always those who dislike, who object and who go to court. But let’s not forget that, we cannot ignore the will of the 13 thousand Armenians who participated in the election of the Patriarch, just because 1 or 2 people have applied to the court.
After his speech, the cross-kissing ceremony was attended by all the clerics and the faithful. Later, he went to the Patriarchate again with the clerics with the accompaniment of hymns and procession. After his brief conversation with the clerics in the hall here, he went to rest.
Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu called on phone and congratulated Sahak Mashalyan for being elected as the 85th Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul.
A Welcoming Ceremony also held
After the press conference, a welcoming ceremony was held for Bishop Sahak Mashalian at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Virgin Mary in Kumkapi. Many faithful from different districts of Istanbul attended the ceremony.
How did the election process begin?
The first step of the Patriarchal election process began with the election of Deghabah (Patriarchal Locum Tenens). On Thursday July 04, 2015, Bishop Sahak Mashalyan was appointed to be Deghabah at the end of the secret ballot among the clergy in the Patriarchate. Then, with the proposals of the presidents and board members of foundations, an Organizing Committee consisting of civilians was established. With the decision of this committee, the Deghabah Bishop informed the authorities about their demands for elections. After receiving the “Election regulations” from the Authorities, the election process of the Armenian Patriarch in Turkey started.
Although there were some dissatisfactions and resignations from the Organizing Committee, three Bishops have been nominated as candidates and they all were sent letters of invitation. These were Archbishop Karekin Bekciyan, Archbishop Aram Atesyan and Bishop Sahak Mashalyan. Başepikopos. Upon the decision of Karekin Bekçiyan for not running in the elections, some objections were raised among the community against the official Election regulations. Upun this, the Organizing Committee, with the chairmen of the foundations, the board of directors and the Spiritual Council decided to do the patriarchal elections, with the majority of votes. According to this, the election of the clergy delegates took place on Saturday, December 7, the civilian delegates were elected on Sunday, December 8 and the Patriarchal election was held on Wednesday, December 11 with the participation of 17 clergy delegates and 102 civilian delegates.
After this process, two candidates, Archbishop Ateshyan and Bishop Mashalyan chose their delegate candidates and started to hold public meetings. On Saturday, December 7, 17 clergy delegates were elected after the meeting of the Spiritual Council in the Patriarchate. As a result of the elections held on Sunday, December 08 at all Armenian Apostolic Churches in Istanbul and the Anatolian Side, Archbishop Sahak Mashalyan had 89 delegates and Archbishop Aram Ateshyan had 12 delegates. The election in the Galata Church was canceled because the voters did not attend and 1 delegate could not be appointed to vote.