Visits with 21 Legislators, Talks with Speaker Pelosi, Offers Moving Invocation at Genocide Observance during Marathon Day of Meetings on Capitol Hill

April 28, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC – His Eminence Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the Eastern United States, urged Members of Congress to speak with moral clarity about the Armenian Genocide and to work to end the ongoing genocide in Darfur, during a full day of more than 20 Capitol Hill meetings leading up to the April 23rd Congressional Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The Archbishop’s meetings included discussions with Senators and Representatives from traditional Armenian American communities in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as those from growing communities in Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Among the legislators he met with were: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden (D-DE), Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY), Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Republican Peter King (R-NY), Congressional Human Rights Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), Rep. Phil English (R-PA), Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC), Rep. James Jordan (R-OH), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Rep. James McGovern (D-MA), Rep. Michael McNulty (D-NY), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Rep. John Tierney (D-MA).

Archbishop Choloyan was joined in his Congressional visits by Rev. Father Sarkis Aktavoukian, Pastor of the Soorp Khatch Armenian Apostolic Church in Bethesda, MD; ANCA National Board Member Onnik Petrossian; ANCA Legislative Affairs Director Raffi Karakashian, ANCA Government Affairs Director Kate Nahapetian, and ANCA Eastern Region Executive Director Karine Birazian.

After a full day of meetings, Archbishop Choloyan joined with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and over 15 Members of Congress at the Capitol Hill commemoration of the 93rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, organized by the Congressional Caucus on Armenian issues. During his moving invocation, Archbishop Choloyan offered a special prayer for the “safety of all of the men and women of our armed forces serving around the world.” He went on to praise the efforts of Amb. Henry Morgenthau and the diplomatic corps of the time of the Genocide who “shared in the responsibility of publicizing the Genocide of the Armenians and administering relief.”

The full text of the Archbishop’s speech follows along with photos from his meetings.


Invocation delivered by
Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan
Prelate, Armenian Apostolic Church of America
93rd Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide
Capitol Hill
Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Almighty God, once again we come before you in the month of April to thank you for your blessings, especially your deliverance from the valley of death 93 years ago. We continue to seek your guidance in every aspect of our lives. We especially ask that you give wisdom to the leaders of this great country, because strong and wise leadership is essential for the continuation of our great society.

Bless those gathered here today. Spread the mantle of your amazing grace upon them, your servants. We especially pray for the safety of all of the men and women of our armed forces serving around the world. Grant all of your children the peace of justice and righteousness.

Holy Father, ninety-three years ago your faithful servants, the men, women and children of the Armenian nation, were subjected to the greatest cruelty. Uprooted from their ancestral homeland of thousands of years, they witnessed the murder of one and a half million of their compatriots. During those dark years, four American presidents—Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover—took direct and bold action to help the Armenians. Furthermore, overseas the entire diplomatic corps—ambassadors, ministers, consuls—shared in the responsibility of publicizing the Genocide of the Armenians and administering relief. Foremost among them was the United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry Morgenthau, Sr. This was one of America’s finest hours, when commitment became action. Without this, the number of Armenian survivors would have been reduced significantly.

Many of the survivors entered the United States and became faithful and participating citizens. They came filled with the hope and promise of America, not so much for themselves, but for their children and their children’s children. Their hope resulted not only in economic rewards, but a flourishing of cultural activity that resulted in the creation of literature, music, dance, sculpture, painting, composition, and other forms of art. Thus, it can be said that the Armenians having survived death, moved into the light of resurrection, and have been contributing their share as a people to the cultural treasure chest of civilization.

The hope planted by the survivors sustains us today. We know, as they did, that without hope there can be no meaningful life or progress. It is through the eyes of this hope that we seek your grace. It is with this hope that we look to our leaders in Washington to have the courage to recognize genocide and act to bring it to an end.

Grant us your divine wisdom and courage to serve humanity in accordance with the highest ideals and values of our Christian heritage. Bring peace to all those who have been martyred in your name, and help us to continue the hope that shall never die.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and always and forever and ever. Amen


For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Email / Tel: (202) 775-1918 / (703) 585-8254 cell
Armenian National Committee of America
1711 N Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036
Tel. (202) 775-1918 * Fax. (202) 775-5648 * Email.anca@anca.org
Your generosity empowers our advocacy, inspires our work, and sustains our momentum.