3) The Armenian Catholicism before Ardzivian
Before Abraham Ardzivian who reestablished the Armenian Catholic patriarchate, there were Armenian Catholics living in Constantinople, Mardin, Aleppo, Jerusalem, Ispahan, Baghdad, Nakhitchévan, Crimea, Poland, Transylvania, Italy, sometimes few, sometimes numerous, subject to different and marvelous Armenian or non – Armenian Leaders. They were a group of people without an Armenian Catholic hierarchy.
Was it necessary to continue in this way?
Some Armenian and Latin clergymen who considered that the Armenian Church was already belonging to the Universal Church and pushed only by ignorance that it was physically separated from it, they were preferring not to break with the Armenian Church, but to appropriate it from inside. This point of view was not taking into consideration what the Armenian Church was thinking about this matter.
Other clergymen, especially with the initiative of the French ambassadors of Constantinople, agreed to find a way to talk with the Armenian Patriarchs of Constantinople. From 1701 till 1830 the continuous negotiations remained fruitless, because of the difficulties caused sometimes by this side and sometimes by the other side.
The fundamental matter was the following. Was the Armenian Church considered separated or united to the Universal one. According to the positive or negative answer provided for this question, the Armenian Catholics were allowed or refused to go there. The Armenian Catholicism, particularly in Constantinople, was divided into two currents. The partisans of the positive answer were frequenting the national churches very tranquilly.
But for the partisans of the negative answer, the dilemma was a difficult matter of conscience, which took finally the form of a complaint against the need of a religious freedom and the suppression of conscience and pushed the Armenian Catholics to take the decision of becoming a separate community.
The first trial of independency took place in the Capital, in 1714, under the control of the Sultan and the Armenian Patriarch and ended with the exile of the participants, by imprisonment or escape. Among the prisoners were the Bishop Melkon Tazbazian who was designated Patriarch and the Bishop of Aleppo, Abraham Ardzivian and the ones who were condemned to galleys.