An interview with the Primate of the Artsakh Diocese of the Armenia Apostolic Church, Archbishop Pargev MARTIROSYAN
-Holy father, could you point out the achievements in the spiritual life of Shushi 20 years after the liberation of the town?
-First, we have already got two restored churches with their clergy. We have also aYouthCenternot far from the Church of the Savior, with its hall, restored and equipped for computer courses for young people. It is planned that various gatherings with sermons and tutorial discussions will held there. Two priests serve in two churches. There are also young people and students of junior grades. I would like to say that the Easter was unprecedented all over Artsakh and in Shushi, in particular: churches were not crowded than ever before. We are gradually moving forward. I want to stress another thing: we have 20-year old young people in Shushi and in Artsakh as a whole, who were born and grew up in the conditions of independence. So I think that our main achievement is the new quality generation.
-It is apparent that the number of believers is growing. But we also see a controversial process, when the Armenian society often refers to the theme of the “spiritual crisis.” How can such two phenomena as the growing number of believers and the spiritual crisis co-exist?
-The spiritual crisis? Not at all. It is a fabricated notion. The spiritual crisis would suppose destruction of churches, empty temples. Just to the contrary, the belief inArmeniaand Artsakh is on the rise. The spiritual crisis was in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, now we see the opposite.
– Looking at the majestic Church Ghazanchechots, your soul is filled with gladness; but at the same time you feel sorrow when see beggars asking alms near its walls. How should be the social mission of the church?
-There was a woman from Sisian, who always came here before, but it is a year and a half that I have not seen her. She was a professional collector of money, not a beggar. As for the church mission, it has never changed: to preach the Gospel, to guide the people by the right path, to improve the moral level. Another thing that the church in some moments could be helpful in the social sphere, sometimes helped the needy, orphans, the blind, as much as it could. So it depends on the possibilities of the diocese.
-What is the main threat to the spiritual security?
-The nation should unite, and it is the guarantee of our security in all senses, it should possess a high moral level and be connected with God by belief. These are the guarantees of the spiritual security, from which the political, economic, physical, cultural security stems.
-Recently, sects have been mentioned in the context of the national security. Are they really a threat?
-Even one sectarian is a threat to the spiritual security. Actually, we are dealing with a lost soul. And it means that, alas, we are vulnerable.
-We live in the world of new technologies, and the church cannot remain indifferent. Church sites are created, other network initiatives, the aim of which is to get the society closer to the church. Does the Armenian Apostolic church attach any importance to them?
-Each diocese has its site, by means of which it presents itself to the world; it also should have an e-mail to provide a feedback. But we have to treat it rightly. Each priest can use Internet; there is a lot of literature, free for users, etc. I mean, the church should not be indifferent toward innovations. All our priests and deacons can and use computers.
-Don’t you think that it is possible to preach with the help of a computer as well?
-It is possible to use all possibilities. For example, materials are published, some communicate via Skype, many others exchange messages, but nothing can replace a live sermon. But one cannot administer the Sacrament via Internet. There is a certain limit. Internet can be used to invite people, to provide information about the holidays, the sacrements of the rituals, and in this sense Internet should be used with the same success as the television, newspapers or the radio. We are trying to be more active. In the recent 2-3 years have been taken some steps in that direction, but we should be more active anyway.
-There also Muslim religious monuments in Shushi. How would you see their future?
-You know, unlike some others, we are not barbarians and we do not destroy cultural and religious monuments. In any case, we preserve them. Although we have no sufficient funds to restore them, cultural monuments should be preserved, which is natural.