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Karekin II

His Holiness Catholicos
Karekin II
Surpreme Patriarch and Catholicos
of All Armenians
Karekin II in 2012
Native name Գարեգին Բ
Church Armenian Apostolic Church
See Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
Appointed 1999
Predecessor Karekin I
Personal details
Birth name Ktrij Nersessian
Born (1951-08-21) 21 August 1951
Voskehat, Armenia
Denomination Armenian Apostolic

Catholicos Karekin II (Armenian: Գարեգին Բ) (born August 21, 1951) is the current Catholicos of All Armenians, the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church.


  • Biography 1
  • Controversies 2
    • Leaked HSBC files 2.1
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Karekin II was born as Ktrij Nersessian in Voskehat, Armenia, on August 21, 1951. He entered the Gevorkian Theological Seminary at Echmiadzin in 1965 and graduated with honors in 1971. He was ordained to the diaconate in 1970. Later he became a monk and was ordained a priest in 1972. In the late 1970s the Catholicos of that period encouraged him to study outside of Armenia. This led to him continuing his studies in Vienna, Bonn University, and Zagorsk, Russia. On October 23, 1983, he was consecrated bishop at Echmiadzin. He became an archbishop in 1992.

Karekin II speaks fluent German from his time in Germany and Austria.[1] In 1975 during his time in Cologne he was the spiritual representative of nine Armenian congregations in Germany.[1]

In 1988 Karekin took an active role in helping his people overcome the Armenian earthquake. He oversaw the construction of a number of churches and schools in Armenia. He also showed an interest in using modern technology and telecommunications to help the life of his churches as well as dealing with the legacies of the Soviet era.

In 1999 he was elected Catholicos of All Armenians at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, succeeding Karekin I. His relations with Pope John Paul II were generally positive. When the Pope visited Armenia in 2001, he stayed with the Catholicos.

In 2006 Karekin made a week-long visit to Istanbul, Turkey, to meet with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and to visit the city's Armenian community. During his visit he caused controversy by speaking out about the Armenian Genocide, which Turkey vehemently denies, and insisting on its recognition by Turkey.

In October 2007, he began a second visit to the United States.[2] On October 10, 2007, he offered the opening prayer for the day's session of the United States House of Representatives.

His ecumenical trip to India to meet Baselios Thoma Didymos I, Catholicos of the East in November 2008, helped strengthen relations between the Armenian and Indian Orthodox Churches. The delegates to the 10th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches that took place in Busan, South Korea, on November 4, unanimously elected Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, the supreme patriarch and head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, head of the organization for the next eight years.


Leaked HSBC files

Karekin II was profiled by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in February 2015.[3] According to the source, "HSBC internal files first listed Karekin II among its clients in 2000. He was connected to an account named “His Holiness Karekin II Nersis” that listed one bank account and held as much as $1.1 million in 2006/2007. The leaked files do not specify the exact role that Karekin II had in relation to the account."[4] However, it was noted that the account was opened by Karekin II's predecessor, Karekin I.[4] A spokesperson for the Armenian Church stated that the accounts of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin have always been registered under the Catholicos' name.[5][6]


  1. ^ a b Von Voss, Huberta. Portraits of Hope: Armenians in the Contemporary World. p. 123. 
  2. ^ Schworm, Peter (2007-10-08). "Armenian church leader brings touch of grace: Karekin II urges N.E. to protect faith, identity".  
  3. ^ "Secret Account? Head of Armenian Church Shows Up in Leaked HSBC Files".  
  4. ^ a b "His Holiness Karekin II". International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  5. ^ Melkumyan, Hrach. "Ամենայն Հայոց կաթողիկոսը անունը՝ HSBC-ի գաղտնազերծված հաշվեհամարների ցանկում". ( 
  6. ^ "Կաթողիկոսի մամլո խոսնակը պարզաբանում է HSBC բանկում Գարեգին Բ-ի անվամբ հաշվեհամարի առկայության փաստը" (in Հայերեն).  

External links

  • Website of the Armenian Church
  • Encyclical from Catholicos Karekin II
  • Catholicos Karekin II Stands Accused
Orthodox Church titles
Preceded by
Karekin I
Catholicos of the Holy See of St. Echmiadzin and All Armenians
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