Cardinal Dolan assured Armenians in the United States and overseas that they’re not alone during his remarks at “An Ecumenical Service for Peace and Justice in Armenia, Artsakh and the World” at St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in Manhattan Oct. 21.
Armenia, a predominantly Christian nation, has been under attack from Azerbaijan since late September. The former Soviet republics are fighting over disputed territory. Ceasefires have failed.
“We here at St. Vartan’s this evening want and will help,” Cardinal Dolan said. “You are not alone. Your face and lamentation are tattooed on our hearts because we are people whose love is not limited by a border, whose hope is never drowned out by drones, whose faith is bolstered by God’s holy word from Isaiah this evening. ‘Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will help you.’”
Cardinal Dolan, the first of three speakers, was followed by Archbishop Elpidophoros of the Greek Orthodox Church and Bishop David of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
“Resignation and Despair Stoke Armenian Conflict, so reports the headline from the newspaper just three days ago,” said Cardinal Dolan in opening his talk. “Resignation and despair, well not here, not here at St. Vartan’s Cathedral this evening. Resignation to invasion, violence, weapons, destruction and war, never.
“Despair over what the same press report tells us is stench and brutality and drones and part of a lengthy and punishing war. Understandable maybe but never, never despair, not for those of us gathered here in faith, solidarity and suffocation at your gracious invitation, Bishop Daniel (Findikyan, primate of the Eastern Diocese Armenian Church of America).”
Cardinal Dolan closed his talk by saying bombs, bullets, bullying and brutality “only produce more of the same.”
“The shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the spirit, that’s our artillery, that’s our strategy,” said Cardinal Dolan in reflecting on the evening’s reading from St. Paul. “All the world might snicker, but Jesus whispers to us this evening, ‘take courage, I conquer the world.’”
The service began with an opening prayer, The Lord’s Prayer and a welcome from Bishop Findikyan.
“I greet you in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he said. “These arches, like arms, have embraced countless, faithful clergy from sister churches, men and women of faith for many decades in times of joy and in times of sorrow and times of fear. This evening we gather together in times of sorrow and fear for turmoil that’s surrounding us in so many parts of the world and in our own country as well. In particular, we are frightened for our homeland of Armenia and Artsakh where a senseless war is proceeding, which is bringing pain and anguish to many many people and causes great danger to the rest of the world.
“At times like this, we come together, heart to heart, as brother and sister Christians, to renew and restore our faith in the only one who can bring true justice and true peace to our lives and our world.”
The readings were from Isaiah and a Letter of Paul to the Ephesians. A Gospel from St. John followed before Cardinal Dolan spoke.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Diocese of Brooklyn offered a prayer later in the service.
A candlelight vigil was held the next night for Armenia and Artsakh on the plaza of St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral Complex.
“We believe in what the prophet Joel says. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be safe,” Bishop Findikyan said.