Senior Vatican Cardinal Fought for Old Julfa Khatchkars

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi with Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian in Yerevan

YEREVAN (Armenpress)—The President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, believes that Armenian khatchkars (cross stones), found all around the world, are representatives of Armenian history.

On a visit to Armenia, Cardinal Ravasi said during a press conference that he regrets that as a consequence of hostilities, such atrocities as the Azeri authorities’’ destruction of ancient Armenian khatchkars in Old Julfa take place.

“I am full of hope that the meeting of the two presidents due in Paris will be crucial in preventing repetition of similar crimes in the future,” Cardinal Ravasi said.

“As President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, I, myself, applied to the UNESCO Secretary General years ago so that everything possible could have been done for saving those historical artifacts in Julfa.”

Over 10 thousand khatchkars have been counted in Old Julfa (Hin Jugha), which are now no more. The latest demolition by the Azerbaijani government took place in 2005-2006, when the Armenian cemetery of Julfa, in the former Armenian province of Nakhijevan, housing thousands of khatchkars, was deliberately destroyed.

Receiving the Cardinal Ravasi in Yerevan, Armenia’s Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian hailed Armenia’s cooperation with the Holy See and emphasized the role of the Vatican in the reinforcement of Christian faith and the establishment of peace and solidarity in the world.

Abrahamian highly appreciated the Cardinal’s activities aimed toward reinforcing spiritual and moral values and preserving cultural heritage.

Cardinal Ravasi attached importance to bilateral cooperation and voiced confidence that the reciprocal visits would contribute to the reinforcement of relations between Armenia and the Vatican.

Abrahamian and Cardinal Ravasi also reportedly discussed issues related to the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial.

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