The Armenian Catholic Church: A Bridge Between Traditions

Tracing its etymological and historical genesis, the term “Armenian Catholic Church” encapsulates the ethnic and spiritual identity of Armenians who embraced Catholicism. This ecclesiastical body originated in the early 18th century, amidst the Armenian community’s interactions with Roman Catholic missionaries.

Historical Context

The Armenian Church took issue with the 451 Council of Chalcedon and formally broke off communion with the Chalcedonian Churches at the 3rd Synod of Dvin in 610. Some Armenian bishops and congregations made attempts to restore communion with the Chalcedonian Churches after the 6th Ecumenical Council of 681. During the Crusades, the Church of the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia entered into union with the Catholic Church, an attempt that did not last. The union was later re-established during the Council of Florence in 1439, but did not have any real effects for centuries.

Formal Recognition and Leadership

In 1742, Pope Benedict XIV formally recognized the Armenian Catholic Church as part of the Roman Catholic Church. The head of the sui iuris Armenian Catholic Church is the Armenian Catholic patriarch of Cilicia, whose main cathedral and de facto archiepiscopal see is the Cathedral of Saint Elias and Saint Gregory the Illuminator in Beirut, Lebanon.

Diaspora and Language

The Armenian Catholic Church is part of the Armenian diaspora, with members spread across different regions. Its liturgy follows the Armenian Rite, and it maintains full communion with the universal Catholic Church, including the Latin Church and the other Eastern Catholic Churches. The Armenian Catholic Church is regulated by Eastern canon law, summarized in the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

Shared Cultural Elements

Throughout history, the Armenian Catholic Church has played a unique role as a bridge between Eastern and Western Christian traditions. It reflects the rich cultural heritage of Armenia while embracing elements of Catholic theology and liturgy. The see’s relocation from Constantinople to Lebanon during the Armenian Genocide in 1915 underscores the resilience and adaptability of this vibrant community.

In summary, the Armenian Catholic Church stands as a testament to the enduring connections between faith, culture, and shared history. Its journey from conversion to formal recognition exemplifies the dynamic interplay of tradition and transformation.



  1. Wikipedia: Armenian Catholic Church
  2. Churchpedia: Armenian Catholic Church – Comprehensive Overview

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