YEREVAN, June 10. /TASS/. A demonstration demanding resignation of the Catholicos of All Armenians, Karekin II, grew over into a mass brawl near the downtown church of St Anne in Yerevan on Sunday, a TASS correspondent said in an eyewitness report on Sunday.
The protesters started chanting their slogans right at the moment Karekin II had come out of the church building after a mass. Their chanting provoked the supporters of the Catholicos and a scuffle broke out.
"You don’t have any right to demand defrocking from our Catholicos," said one of the bishops of the Armenian Apostolic Church who escorted Karekin II. "We know who’s standing behind your backs and what goals you’re pursuing."
"These protesters are seeking to enfeeble the Armenian Church," he said.
His Holiness Karekin II refrained from comments on the incident and withdrew from the scene.
Police managed to break up the fight between the two camps, which consisted mostly of clergymen.
Protests waving the demand for Karekin II’s stepping down from the post began in Yerevan on June 6. Secular Armenians take part in them alongside the clerics. The protester claim that the Catholicos’s defrocking is the only way to facilitate reforms in the Church, the oldest denomination of Christianity in the world.
The Council of Bishops of the Armenian Church condemned the protests on June 6, while Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said the state did not interfere in Church affairs. He refrained from any comments on the conflict.
Under the canonical law of the Armenian Apostolic Church, a Catholicos is elected for life. The Supreme Spiritual Council of the Church elected Karekin II to the post in 1999.