By Vatican News staff writer

In his condolence message sent on Saturday, Pope Francis praised the pastoral witness and outreach of Patriarch Ghabroyan, who headed the Armenian Patriarchate of Cilicia based in Beirut, Lebanon.

The message in French came through Cardinal Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in Syria, his personal representative at the Patriarch’s funeral held in the Armenian Catholic Cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator-St. Elias in Beirut, where he read the Pope’s message.

Tireless, faithful servant

The Pope praised the pastoral sensitivity of Patriarch Ghabroyan with his tireless outreach and care for serving the most destitute Armenian communities suffering from the war and poverty, especially in Syria and Lebanon.

The Pope also recalled their meetings together, especially in the summer of 2015 when he was elected Patriarch and asked the Pope for a special blessing in order to lead the Patariarchal Church despite his advanced age.

Pope Francis also recalled other meetings with Patriarch Ghabroyan in Rome, during his Apostolic Journey to Armenia in 2016, as well as in 2018 with the inuguration of the statue of Saint Gregory of Narek in the Vatican gardens.

The Pope recalled fondly all these occasions, which offered opportunities to express his closeness with the “beloved Armenian people who have suffered so much in the course of their history but who have always remained faithful to the profession of faith in Christ the Savior.”

He commended the Patriarch’s soul to the mercy of God and for the intercessory prayer of Mary, Mother of God, of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, and of Saint Gregory of Narek, together with all the Armenian martyrs and saints.

Dedication to poor

Archbishop Boutros Marayati of the Catholic Armenians of Aleppo presided over the funeral ceremony on Saturday. He took over following the death of the Patriarch in the role of Administrator of the Patriarchal Church of Cilicia of the Armenians.

Auxiliary Bishop Kevork Assadourian of Beirut of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate delivered the homily at the funeral, where he spoke of the Patriarch’s long ministry in the service of the Church and the Armenian people, emphasizing in particular his dedication to the poor.

“First of all, the late patriarch was a lover of the poor, as evidenced by the assistance and closeness he wished to offer, away from the spotlight, in favor of poor families especially over these last two years when Lebanon is experiencing unsustainable economic and social conditions,” said Bishop Assadourian. “In recent days, even the illness that afflicted him, could not stop the pursuit of his work. Even on his hospital bed he continued to manage, organize and convene meetings trying to meet the needs of his Church and his people.”

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches also sent a special message of condolence recalling the witness and dedication of the Patriarch Ghabroyan. The Apostolic Nuncio to Lebanon, Archbishop Joseph Spiteri, read Cardinal Sandri’s message of condolence.

Also participating in the funeral ceremony were the bishops and clergy of the Armenian Catholic Church, as well as representatives of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches of Lebanon, including Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï, Patriarch of the Great House of Cilicia of the Armenians Aram I, and Patriarch of the Syrian Catholic Church His Beatitude Yousef Younan.

A representative of the President of the Lebanese Republic was onhand, as well as representatives of the political, diplomatic and civil society.

The burial ceremony will take place in the Patriarchal seat of the Convent of Our Mother of Bzommar, where the Patriarch will be buried in the cemetery reserved for Armenian Patriarchs.