BUENOS AIRES—Pope Francis will hold Mass for the Armenian Genocide Centennial in the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, on April 12, 2015. The Announcement was made by the Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires Mario Poli during a mass in the Armenian Catholic Parish of Our Lady of Narek on Sunday, Aug. 17, reported Presna Armenia.
Pablo Hakimian, the pastor of the Armenian Catholic Parish of Our Lady of Narek, said that the announcement of a Mass for the Armenian Genocide centennial is in response to an invitation by the Armenian Catholic Church.
“The Pope replied to the invitation from the Armenian Catholic Church a year ago through Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX to hold a mass for the recognition of the Genocide,” Father Hakimian told Prensa Armenia.
On June 3, 2013, Pope Francis held a meeting with a delegation led by Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX, during which he also met a descendant of Armenian Genocide survivors and stated, “It was the first genocide of the twentieth century.” The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded with a statement of its own: “The expressions of Pope Francis are absolutely unacceptable.”
This is not the first time Pope Francis has publicly recognize the Armenian Genocide. In 2006, when he was still known as Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, he called the Genocide “The gravest crime of Ottoman Turkey against the Armenian people and the entire humanity.”
More recently, in May 2014, Pope Francis received His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians. During the meeting, he said that we should never forget the blood poured by the Armenians in the last century. In June 2014, Pope Francis also received His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia.
Pope Francis is not the first Pope calling on Turkey to admit its crimes. John Paul II also recognized the Armenian Genocide. In September 2001, during his farewell ceremony at the Zvartnotz International Airport in Yerevan, he said “The Armenian people have paid dearly for their frontier existence, so much so that the words ‘holiness’ and ‘martyrdom’ have become almost identical in your vocabulary. The terrible events at the beginning of the last century, which brought your people to the brink of annihilation, the long years of totalitarian oppression:none of these has been able to prevent the Armenian soul from regaining courage and recovering its great dignity.” Pope John Paul II also said a prayer at the Tzitzernakaberd Memorial, during which he said: “Wipe away every tear from their eyes and grant that their agony in the twentieth century will yield a harvest of life that endures forever. We are appalled by the terrible violence done to the Armenian people, and dismayed that the world still knows such inhumanity.”
The scheduled Mass on April 12, 2015, may be one of the largest events organized around the Genocide Centennial.