12 ապրիլ, 2015 13:30

Pope Francis Calls Slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turkey 'Genocide'

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 11.30.18 AM Pope Francis conducting Holy Mass for the faithful of Armenian Rite.

Pope Francis led a Holy Mass for the faithful of Armenian Rite at the Vatican on April 12. During the mass, Pope Francis said that the slaughter of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire was the first genocide of the 20th Century.

"In the past century our human family has lived through three massive and unprecedented tragedies. The first, which is widely considered 'the first genocide of the 20th century,' struck your own Armenian people," the pontiff said during the mass.

“It seems that the human family has refused to learn from its mistakes caused by the law of terror, so that today too there are those who attempt to eliminate others with the help of a few and with the complicit silence of others who simply stand by,” he continued.

According to the Associated Press, Turkey's embassy to the Holy See canceled a planned news conference for Sunday, presumably after learning that the pope would utter the word "genocide" over its objections.

Armenia's President Serzh Sargsyan, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia and His Beautitude Nerses Bedros XIX, Catholicos Patriarch of Cilicia of Armenian Catholics took part in the Holy Mass.

Armenian Church hymns were sung during the entirety of the mass, with the traditional Armenian duduk making its first ever appearance in St. Peter's Basilica. At the end of the Mass, a requiem was held for the souls of the 1.5 million Armenians who perished during the genocide led by His Beautitude Nerses Bedros XIX, His Holiness Karekin II and His Holiness Aram I. All three Armenian Church leaders made concluding speeches.

His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians was the first to offer his remarks at the end of the Papal Mass. He said that the centuries-old friendship of the two churches was significant and thanked Pope Francis for his solidarity in brotherhood. He said that humanity was not able to stop the Armenian Genocide nor condemn it, and as a result had to bear witness to more genocides. His Holiness went on to say that in this 100th year, the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, its condemnation and restitution is an imperative for the world.

His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia also offered his remarks. "In fact, the Armenian Genocide is an unforgettable and undeniable fact of history, deeply rooted in the annals of modern history and in the common consciousness of the Armenian people, therefore any attempt to erase it from history and our common memory is doomed to fail. In fact in 1915, 1.5 million Armenians were victims of a genocide carefully planned and systematically executed by the Ottoman Empire of the time. Not only did we lose 1.5 million Armenians, but thousands of Armenian monasteries, churches, community centers, objects of spiritual and cultural immense value were destroyed, lost or confiscated. They still remain confiscated, including the Armenian Catholicosate in Sis. We cannot forget this first genocide of the 20th century this crime against humanity. Your Holiness, according to international law, genocide is a crime against humanity and international sets out clearly that condemnation, recognition and reparation of genocide are closely linked. The Armenian cause is a cause of justice and as we well know, justice is not human made, it's a gift of God, therefore the violation of justice is a sin against God. On the centenary of the Armenian Genocide, our martyrs today challenge us to reaffirm our commitment to justice and human dignity and human rights." His Holiness went on to say that during the Genocide, Pope Benedict XV made countless calls to halt the atrocities being realized against the Armenian nation. "We never forget the continuous assistance and solidarity of the Church towards the Armenians, that is to say towards justice."

His Beautitude Nerses Bedros XIX addressed the congregation in Italian. He said that at the conclusion of this emotional Papal Mass, where St. Gregory of Narek was proclaimed as Doctor of the Church, "all of us present, in particular the Armenian faithful, are full of gratitude." All those who have read the pages of Narek, he said, will be filled with the spirit and soul of Narek, who lived and worked in the 10th century. He said that the Armenians were victims of the Genocide because of their Christian faith.

During the Papal Mass, St. Gregory of Narek, a 10th century Armenian mystic was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Francis, a title bestowed on only 35 other people. It is reserved for those who have 'greatly served the universal church.'