The catholicate of Sis - or Cilicia - was reorganised in 1929 with four sees, under a new primatial see at Antelias, north of Beirut. From 1931 the catholicate boasted a printing press and an official review called Hask. Its standing was further raised by the election of the illustrious scholar Garegin Yovsep'eanc' (1945-52) to the see. Meanwhile, Armenian Catholic refugees fled to the monastery of Bzommar in Lebanon, to which their patriarchal see returned from Istanbul in 1931. In the interim a council of bishops was convoked in Rome to reorganise the church.
With the establishment of Soviet rule in November 1920 came the official proclamation of atheism as state doctrine and the graded introduction ofper-secution against religion and the church. A state decree nationalised cultural institutions and removed schools from church supervision. The catholicate of Ejmiacin was seized and the seminary transformed into a public school, while religious instruction in schools was prohibited. In 1922 the Polozhenie governing the church's legal status was disbanded and a temporary constitution put in place, which permitted the creation ofa supreme spiritual council two years later.
The ideological struggle reached its peak towards the end of the twenties, marked by the launch of the illustrated review Anastuac (Atheist) in January 1928 and the founding of the antireligious university in Erevan in November 1929. Collectivisation of agriculture led to a Siberian exile for many priests, condemned as 'kulaks'.61 In such a climate it comes as no surprise that on the death of Catholicos Gevorg (9 May 1930) authorisation for a new election was not immediately forthcoming. This negative attitude towards the Armenian Church was always tempered by the existence of the diaspora.62 Hence, after a hiatus of two years, pragmatic Kremlin policy makers altered their stance so as not to disrupt the entry of diaspora funds to the republic.63 Accordingly, internal and international electors met and chose Xoren Muradbekyan (193238) for the supreme office, though his reign marked another grim nadir for the church before the twentieth century was half done. Stalin's antireligious persecution ushered in a new phase of destruction and desecration of churches
61 Matossian, Impact of Soviet policies, 148.
62 W Kolarz, Religion in the Soviet Union (London: St Martin's Press, 1961).
63 Matossian, Impact ofSoviet policies, 150. It is interesting that the electors discussed the possibility of removing the primatial see from E jmiacin to Jerusalem.
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