The bishops of the Armenian Catholic Church elected Archbishop Raphaël François Minassian, the ordinary for Armenian Catholics in Eastern Europe, to be their church’s new patriarch.
Upon his election, the 74-year-old patriarch took the name Patriarch Raphaël Pierre XXI Minassian, the Vatican said in an announcement Sept. 23.
The patriarch-to-be and his 11 confreres began meeting in Rome Sept. 20 to begin their second attempt at electing a patriarch.
The bishops had met in Lebanon for two weeks beginning June 22, but no candidate had garnered the two-thirds vote necessary to succeed Patriarch Grégoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan, who died in Beirut May 25.
In accordance with church law, after the unsuccessful election, the bishops turned to Pope Francis. He asked them to gather in Rome and begin the electoral process again Sept. 22 after two days of prayer and reflection.
Patriarch Minassian was born in Beirut Nov. 24, 1946, and prepared for the priest-hood at the patriarchal semi-nary in Bzommar before studying philosophy and theology at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University and doing special studies in educational psychology at the Pontifical Salesian University.
Ordained to the priesthood in 1973, he served as pastor in Armenian parishes in Lebanon and as secretary for five years to Patriarch Jean Pierre XVIII Kasparian.
After serving as a judge in the Armenian church tribunal in Beirut and teaching Armenian at a Catholic university, he was transferred to the United States where he served as a pastor in New York before serving as pastor of Armenian Catholics in California, Arizona and Nevada.