Istanbul (Agenzia Fides) - At least 12 bishops of the Armenian Apostolic Church are eligible to be elected as Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, which remained vacant after the death of Mesrob II Mutafyan, who had been in a vegetative state due to health problems since 2008 and died on March 8. The main condition set by the 1961 Turkish decree regulating the patriarchal election requires that legitimate candidates for elections are born in Turkey or whose father is at least registered as a Turkish citizen. The bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, printed in Istanbul, published the list of potential candidates for the patriarchal seat, among which the names of Archbishop Sahak Masalyan - currently in charge of coordinating the entire electoral process, as “Degabah” (Trustee), and Archbishop Aram Athesyan, already “locum tenens” of the Patriarchate in the long years of Patriarch Mesrob's illness. The list of candidates also includes bishops Daniel Findikyan and Vicken Aykazyan, while among potential candidates residing in Armenia, Archbishop Khajag Barsamyan has already announced that he does not want to take part in the patriarchal election.
The process for the election of the new Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople seems to have now entered the final straight after the disputes and incidents that had conditioned the start. As reported by Fides, (see Fides, 4/4/2018), in February 2018 the office of the governor of Istanbul had canceled the electoral process already started in order to look for the successor of the ill Patriarch Mesrob. At the time, the Turkish authorities had blocked the electoral process by appealing to the fact that Patriarch Mesrob was still alive, and the Turkish legal provisions stipulate that a new Armenian Patriarch can be elected and take office only when the office remains vacant because of the death of the predecessor. On the troubled affair of the election of the new Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, the Supreme Spiritual Council of Echmiadzin's Armenian Catholicosate intervened on several occasions, complaining that the contrasts between individuals and ecclesial groups within the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople had paved the way for "external interference", including those of the Turkish political apparatuses. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 30/7/2019)