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Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan Urges Genocide Recognition in Capitol Hill Meetings

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Visits with 16 legislators during marathon day of meetings on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON—His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the Eastern United States, called on Members of Congress to speak with unstinting resolve about the Armenian Genocide and to work to end the ongoing genocide in Darfur, during a full day of 16 Capitol Hill meetings following the April 22 Congressional Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

Archbishop Choloyan’s meetings included discussions with Senate and House members from traditional Armenian American communities in New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Rhode Island, as well as those from growing communities in Minnesota, Ohio, Maine, Virginia, and Indiana. Among the legislators he met with were: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), House Republican Conference Chair Mike Pence (R-Ind.), Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R- Minn.), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio), Rep. Chellie Pingree (D- Maine), Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), and Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.).

Archbishop Choloyan was joined in his Congressional visits by Rev. Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian, Pastor of the Soorp Khatch Armenian Apostolic Church in Bethesda, Md.; ANCA national board member Ari Killian; and ANCA legislative affairs director Raffi Karakashian.

On April 22, Archbishop Choloyan joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and over 20 Members of Congress at the Capitol Hill commemoration of the 94th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, organized by the Congressional Caucus on Armenian issues. During his moving invocation, Archbishop Choloyan stated: “Ninety-four years ago we witnessed the very worst of humankind’s capacity for evil. Today we stand before you and reaffirm our pledge to give voice to all victims of genocide and tyranny and we rededicate ourselves to the struggle for truth and justice.”

Archbishop Choloyan’s complete invocation is below.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Almighty and ever-living God, Creator of the world, we render thanks to you for all of the goodness that you have granted us with your grace and your fatherly care.

We stand before you today in our nation’s beautiful capital city of Washington, on yet another April, the month of life when the barren earth blooms, but a month of death for your true children of the Armenian nation who continue to mourn the genocide of one and one-half million of their compatriots.

We ask you to bless this great land of liberty that welcomed with open arms the remnants of the Armenian nation. We ask for your blessings of its inhabitants, its president, and all branches of its government and all of its public servants. Protect and enlighten them that they may serve your glory and be instruments of goodness for the well being of your sons and daughters in the United States of America, and in the whole world.

We continue to seek your guidance in our faithful service to you and in our pursuit of righteousness. Grant us the wisdom and courage of your divine being to serve humanity in accordance with the highest ideals and values of our Christian heritage.

Heavenly father, we stand before you today with sadness and melancholy, but still we are filled with hope. We are filled with the hope of the resurrection. We are filled with the hope of the promises of truth and change. We honor the memory of our martyrs and resolve to carry on their dream, continue their struggle, and perpetuate their memory.

Ninety-four years ago we witnessed the very worst of humankind’s capacity for evil. Today we stand before you and reaffirm our pledge to give voice to all victims of genocide and tyranny and we rededicate ourselves to the struggle for truth and justice. We give thanks for our deliverance from the depths of our despair to this land of liberty. Our journey ahead may be filled with trials and tribulations, but it is a journey of faith, and we know that we are helped by the strength that comes from you.

Bless this gathering and all those in attendance. Guide our national leaders, especially the men and women of Congress who have joined us in our pursuit of justice. Safeguard the brave men and women serving in our armed forces here at home and overseas.

Spread your special grace and protection upon the remaining survivors of the Armenian genocide, who continue to hope and pray that justice will “roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24)

We will praise your name forever and ever. Amen.

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