Turkey’s Armenian Church excommunicates citizen over Facebook remarks

Turkey’s Armenian Church excommunicates citizen over Facebook remarks
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Accusing the Patriarch of assuming the post by intrigue, Levon Gagacyan said he will sue all who signed the decision sent to him

The Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul has excommunicated Levon Gagacyan over his social media remarks blaming the patriarch Sahak Masalyan of assuming the post by intrigue.

The Patriarchate announced that the excommunication has arrived as Gagacyan did not "repent" over his “allegations”, Arti Gercek reported on Monday.

Gagacyan said he will sue all of those who signed the decision that he denounced as unacceptable, adding that it was a first in almost two centuries.

According to the Patriarchate’s statement, the “Spiritual Assembly” that convened on Dec.12, 2022 under the chairmanship of the Patriarch Sahak II has given Levon Gagacyan a week’s time to renounce his attitude and repent. Given additional time due to the “feeling of refreshment in the start of a new year,” the church said in the course of time, “far from repenting and displaying a peaceful attitude, Gagacyan has completely deviated from the right path.”

Blaming Gagacyan of “unfounded allegations that he regularly voices on his social media assets” against the Armenian Church, especially the Patriarch Masalyan, the Patriarchate has said that his relations with the Armenian Church were cut off, a decision came into force as of Jan.14.

Commenting under the Patriarchate's Facebook post over the decision, Gagacyan said “Despite you violated our great mourning and you assumed the office with intrigue, you are the Patriarch of all of us because the state has approved so. However, I do not accept the junta of clerics who disregarded our traditions, disrupted our rituals and destroyed hierarchical discipline.”

Also speaking to Turkish Hurriyet newspaper, Gagacyan said the Patriarchate no right to do this.

“My problem is with individuals, not with the church. I will sue those who signed the document they have sent me,” he said.

Masalyan was elected as the 85th patriarch of the Armenian Orthodox Christians in Turkey in December 2019. At the time, critics accused the Turkish government of interfering the elections process, resulting with some community members of boycotting the elections.

Masalyan was heavily criticized by the Armenian community over his controversial statements on the Armenian Genocide and favouring good relations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who denies the genocide.