John Allen skriver om pavens besøk i Armenia, at han på alle måter behandlet Karekin II, Den armenske apostoliske kirkens leder, som likemann, bl.a.:
… By any worldly measure, a comparison between Pope Francis and His Holiness Karekin II, the Catholicos of All Armenians, is a total mismatch.
A pope leads a global faith made up of 1.2 billion people, presides over a sovereign state in the Vatican that has diplomatic relations with pretty much everybody, and is a media rock star all around the world.
The head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, on the other hand, has at most 9 million followers, and is a rock star in exactly one spot: Armenia, a nation of around 3 million people. Otherwise, take off his clerical vestments, and he could move through airports unrecognized.
Despite its history as the world’s first officially Christian nation, Armenia is, frankly, something of a bit player even within Orthodoxy. It’s one of six Oriental Orthodox churches that don’t recognize the Council of Chalcedon, and thus tends to be overlooked in comparison to better-known Orthodox groups such as the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Russian Orthodox Church.
Yet over the past three days, the choreography of the trip, over and over again, has projected the idea that Francis and Karekin are complete equals, both heads of ancient churches and both invested with spiritual authority.
Everywhere Francis has gone, Karekin has been at his side; everywhere Francis has spoken, so too has Karekin; and anything Francis has blessed, prayed, over, or put flowers in front of, he was joined in doing so by Karekin. Francis stayed in Karekin’s Apostolic Palace, sharing meals and prayer every day. …
On Saturday, Francis and Karekin visited the northern Armenian city of Gyumri, and before leaving they stopped at both the Armenian and Catholic cathedrals. Francis offered the final blessing in the Armenian place of worship, while Karekin did so in the Catholic setting.
Also on Saturday, Karekin joined Francis for an open-air Mass the pontiff celebrated in Gyumri’s Vartanants Square, and on Sunday Francis returned the favor by taking part in a Divine Liturgy staged in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace of the Armenian church in Etchmiadzin.
In both cases, the two men processed in together, side-by-side, and Sunday’s Orthodox liturgy was a rare case of a public event at which a pope was present but not actually the main actor. At one point, a choir intoned prayers for both Karekin and Francis.
The demonstration of common cause among Francis and Karekin reflects not only the corporate commitment of both churches to ecumenism, but also Francis’s personal passion for Christian unity. …