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Catholicos of Cilicia

BIRTH: 1947
CHURCH: Armenian Apostolic Church
[Oriental Orthodox], Catholicossate of Cilicia

His Holiness Aram I is Catholicos of the See of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church (Antelias, Lebanon).

He was elected moderator of the WCC Central Committee at the Seventh Assembly (Canberra 1991) - the youngest person ever to be chosen for that position - and was re-elected at the Eighth Assembly (Harare 1998), and he is the first moderator to be re-elected since Franklin Clark Fry in 1961.

Ordained a priest in 1968, Aram Keshishian was named locum tenens of the diocese of Lebanon in 1978 and primate in 1979, and was ordained as a bishop in 1980. In 1995 he was elected catholicos.

He has studied theology - specializing in philosophy, contemporary systematic theology and Middle Eastern church history - at his church's theological seminary in Antelias, Lebanon, the Near East School of Theology (Beirut), the American University of Beirut, and Fordham University (New York), from which he earned a Ph.D. in theology. He also attended the WCC's graduate school of ecumenical studies in Bossey, Switzerland, and has done theological research at Oxford University.

In 1975 he was named to the WCC Faith and Order Commission. He was a delegate to the WCC's Sixth Assembly (Vancouver 1983), where he was elected to the Central Committee. He played an active role in the founding and re-structuring of the Middle East Council of Churches. He is a member of the Oriental-Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Bilateral Dialogues. He is an honorary member of Pro-Oriente, a Roman Catholic Ecumenical Foundation located in Vienna.

He has written a dozen books in Armenian and English about the Armenian church and about ecumenical issues. An abridged version of his doctoral dissertation was published in 1990 under the title Conciliar Fellowship: A Common Goal (Geneva, WCC Publications, 1990). His most recent book is a collection of essays entitled The Challenge to be a Church in a Changing World (1997).

May 1999

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