In Solidarity with Artsakh
My Remarks at the Gathering in Solidarity with Artsakh—September 22, 2023, St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral, New York City
On behalf of my Brother in Christ, His Eminence Anoushavan Srpazan, and all our faithful clergy, I want to thank you for answering our call, and joining us this evening, here at St. Vartan Cathedral. At times like this, I truly feel that this sanctuary achieves the dream of its founders: to be a Home to all Armenians of America. So I want to welcome all of you to your home.
The idea of Home is why we are here. Home in the sense of Homeland. We Armenians have cultivated our homeland for thousands of years: built it up, adorned it with monuments to God, and defended it in times of crisis. In ages past, we nourished the dream of one day having an independent homeland to call our own. And 32 years ago today that long-held dream became a glorious reality for us: a miracle that came about by our people's will and vote.
Of course, another part of our homeland was born in struggle, forged by heroes, secured and defended at significant cost for three decades. Our homeland of Armenia and Artsakh is small—but it is OURS, and every square mile of its territory, every monument to its history, is precious to us, as Armenians.
My friends, I don’t have to tell you this is a dire time for our precious homeland. The war three years ago was a catastrophe for us. The aggression against Artsakh since then and the blockade that it has endured for the better part of a year now have threatened to make life itself impossible. And now the attack of this week raises the definite possibility for ethnic cleansing, another genocide of our people.
We cannot predict what the outcome will be from any of this. We cannot—we MUST not— fall into despair. But at the same time, we must be honest about the truth. The days to come will be difficult and demoralizing for our sisters and brothers in Artsakh. But for all Armenians, as well.
But one thing stands as clear as day to me. And that is, in the days and weeks to come, the people of Artsakh will need our support more than ever before. And equally clear to me is that we must stand UNITED as Armenians, ready to help in any way we can. In any way, we are called to do.
My friends, we must be honest that we should not expect any outside forces to do this work for us. Indeed, we can continue to appeal to our governments, call our congressmen, and continue to make our voices heard however we can. Perhaps some help will come from such efforts.
But we must look to God and to ourselves, first and foremost. If our brothers and sisters in Artsakh are to survive, it will be because, with God’s help, WE were united in our conviction to help them and united in our actions. In the days to come, as the situation on the ground becomes more apparent, we will begin to know what form that help must take. And when we do, we must be ready to respond—together.
My friends, it is going to take great spiritual reserves to undertake this task. We must ensure that we nourish and maintain the health of the Armenian communities here in America, even as we re-dedicate ourselves to the well-being of the Armenians of Artsakh. But our Lord Jesus Christ has given the Armenian people such strength in the past. And He will do so again. It is to Him, above all, that we must open our hearts and ask for his help and blessing.
That is why Srpazan and I felt it was so important to hold this gathering in a sacred place, beneath the watchful eyes of God, as a united family of faithful. May our merciful Lord attend to the prayers being said tonight by His children—in Artsakh, in Armenia, and in this cathedral now—and in so doing, may He reveal His will for us and the continuing life of our precious homeland. Amen.
Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan