meetings to review the issues dividing them: Christology, recognition of councils and saints, imposition of anathemas, and so on. These were then followed from 1985 to 1993 by an Official Joint Commission, which arrived at an agreed statement on Christology now being reviewed by the individual churches.72 The catholicates have since 1971 also entered into dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church. Catholicos Garegin I and his successor Catholicos Aram have both signed statements in the context of a series of joint communiques issued by Pope John Paul II and the heads of the oriental churches. In addition, in 1965 on the fiftieth anniversary of the genocide there were talks directed towards a rapprochement between the Armenian Evangelical churches in the Near East and the Apostolic Church; in 1968 there was a merger of the Armenian Evangelical Union of the eastern USA with that of Canada, which was then extended the next year to California, to form the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America.
Vazgen Palycan's long period of office (1955-94) provided the church in the Soviet Republic with an important measure of stability. He brought dignity and respect to the catholicate, and his intervention was crucial in cases of popular unrest.73 He oversaw the re-creation of the synod of bishops and witnessed a significant change of the popular attitude towards the church during perestroika, when church attendance and participation in communion were viewed as a powerful form of political protest.74 From 1987 to 1993 the church was an uneasy spectator, as mass meetings and protests in the Erevan Opera Square voiced increasing disaffection with the government's handling of affairs. The earthquake that struck Armenia on 7 December 1988 made deep demands on the church's charitable and spiritual resources, while at the same time breaking down the political barriers which had separated Armenia from large sections of the diaspora and inaugurating greater cooperation between the two catholicates.
The last decade and a half has been one of enormous activity as the church establishes its legal status and social and spiritual role within the new Republic of Armenia, which declared independence on 21 September 1991. There is increased scope for the church's social, charitable and educational activities.75
72 For the text of the four agreed statements (1989-93) see 'Appendix', StNersess Theological Review 1 (1996), 99-110.
73 On two occasions he restrained popular emotions in the capital, first on the fiftieth anniversary commemoration ofthe Armenian Genocide (1965) and then during a demonstration against the Supreme Soviet Building in connection with the Karabagh Movement.
74 Kolarz, Religion in the Soviet Union, 173.
75 These normally take the traditional form of diakoniai.
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