On 30 July His All-Holiness the Oecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomaeus I, received Abba Seraphim at the Phanar, accompanied by Mr. Trevor Maskery and Archimandrite Deiniol of the Wales Orthodox Mission within the Oecumenical Patriarchate. The Patriarch expressed himself very happy to see Abba Seraphim again and gently reproved him for having not visited Constantinople for a number of years. During their meeting they were able to discuss matters of mutual concern and interest.
At the Patriarch’s invitation Abba Seraphim and his companions were invited to join him and members of the Holy Synod for lunch, after which they continued their conversation in the Throne Room of the Phanar. During his time at the Phanar Abba Seraphim also visited the Patriarchal Church of St. George.
On 27 March Abba Seraphim was delighted to welcome His Eminence Archbishop Aram Ateshian, General Vicar (Acting Patriarch) of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople to the British Orthodox Church Secretariat at Charlton and to take him on a tour of some of the religious and historical sites of Greenwich. His Eminence was visiting London for a few days and was accompanied by Father John Whooley, with whom he was staying during his visit. Accompanied by Mr Trevor Maskery, Abba Seraphim met the Archbishop at Greenwich Pier and the party lunched together before touring Greenwich.
The first site was St. Alfege’s Parish Church, where they prayed at the memorial marking the place of the saint’s martyrdom a thousand years ago. After this they visited the Old Royal Naval College (now Greenwich University) beginning with the Painted Hall and concluding with the fine chapel, where they were received by the chaplain, Rev’d Jeremy Frost. They then drove into Greenwich Park to view the Royal Observatory and the fine views across London. After this they drove to Charlton where Abba Seraphim introduced Archbishop Aram to his three resident aquatic Van Cats: Hripsime, Shoushan and Senekerim. They later discussed matters of mutual interest, before dining together in the evening.
The British Orthodox Church and the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople have long enjoyed warm relations and since the illness and incapacity of Patriarch Mesrob II, Archbishop Aram has served as Acting Patriarch. Abba Seraphim will be visiting Istanbul this summer and Archbishop Aram assured him of a warm welcomed at the Patriarchate in Kumkapi.
In consequence of the tragic illness of Patriarch Mesrob II Mutafyan, who has been incapacitated as a result of fronto-temporal lobe dementia, the Armenian community in Istanbul hoped to elect Archbishop Aram Ateshian as co-patriarch of Constantinople. However on 2 July 2010, the Governor of Istanbul insisted that under the terms of the patriarchate’s own statutes there could be no co-patriarch during the lifetime of an existing patriarch (who is elected for life) and therefore named Archbishop Aram as General Vicar of the Patriarch for the term of Patriarch Mesrob’s life, with full patriarchal rights. Archbishop Aram, who was consecrated to the episcopate in 1999 has effectively administered the see for the past two years.
Abba Seraphim and Patriarch Mesrob became personal friends when the latter was Archbishop of the Princes’ Islands and Abba Seraphim became a frequent visitor to Istanbul during the patriarchate of Karekin I. Abba Seraphim, accompanied by the future Father Peter Farrington attended Patriarch Mesob’s enthronement on 21 November 1998.
In his letter of congratulation to Archbishop Aram, Abba Seraphim noted that “the dignified and sensitive way in which your community has responded to [the crisis over Patriarch Mesrob’s health] speaks loudly for the wisdom and maturity shown and is a worthy example of Christian conduct in the face of an intractable problem.” In his reply Archbishop Aram spoke of the “strong relatiobns between two sistwer churches” and said he looked forward to a future visit to the patriarchate by Abba Seraphim with pleasure