In Vatican, Pope Francis Recognizes Armenian Genocide

‘First genocide of 20th century was that of Armenians,’ says Pope Francis

BUENOS AIRES (Diaro Armenia)—Pope Francis, during a meeting on June 3 with a delegation led by Nerses Bedros XIX, Catholicos Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenian Catholics at the Vatican, reiterated his earlier recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Pope Francis during the meeting
Pope Francis during the meeting

During the visit, the pope met with members of the delegation, when one of them said that she was a descendant of genocide victims, to which the pontiff responded, “The first genocide of the 20th Century was that of the Armenians,” thus reiterating his earlier recognition of the Armenian Genocide while he headed the Catholic Church in Buenos Aires as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio.

Seven years ago, during events marking the 91st anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Buenos Aires, he had urged Turkey to recognize the genocide as the “gravest crime of Ottoman Turkey against the Armenian people and the entire humanity.”

The director of the Armenian National Committee of South America, Dr. Alfonso Tabakian, explained that this was the first such statement from the pontiff since being elevated to pope and leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

Tabakian called the statement “very important since his words transcend any state or religion.”

“This recognition of the Armenian Genocide as the first genocide of the 20th century reaffirms the statements of John Paul II, [which were made] upon his arrival in Armenia on Sept. 25, 2001, demonstrating that more and more states, parliaments, and international organizations are adopting this position against the denial of history perpetrated by the Turkish state,” added Tabakian.

During the visit, Nerses Bedros XIX presented the pope with a painting depicting Jesus Christ on the crucifix.

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.


  1. When the Herero and Namaqua genocide is mentioned, in which from 25, 000 up to 100,000 people have died, it is advisable to mention also that in 2004 the German government apologized and expressed grief for the events in German South-West Africa (modern-day Namibia) in 1904-1907. It is also advisable to mention that the German government continues economic aid for Namibia which currently amounts to $14 mln per year. Compare this with the denialism and unrepentance of the Nation of Turkey for deliberate extermination of 1.5 million Armenians with up to 300,000 slaughtered earlier by Abdul The Damned and 30,000 killed during the Adana massacre. Compare this also with the fact that during the Armenian Genocide peaceful citizens of a country were mass exterminated by their own government, whereas the Herero and Namaqua were attempted to be exterminated during the Herero anti-colonial wars.

    • All of what you say is true. I never meant to equate the two in any way. However, none of that changes which came first chronologically. Saying “the second genocide of the 20th century” changes nothing, nor does it make the Armenian genocide less significant.

    • The comment wasn’t intended to change the chronological occurrence of genocides. But perhaps The Pope was affected by the fact that nearly all of the Armenian people was mass murdered, starved to death and forcibly removed from their ancestral lands on a scale never before seen in history and while being in largely peaceful state not in colonial wars. This doesn’t make the Herero genocide less significant.

    • The Herero were nearly wiped off the face of the earth. According to the 1985 UN Whitaker Report, only 15 thousand of 80 thousand Herero remained after the Genocide. The 24-25 thousand is the German “estimate” and therefore is about as credible as the Turkish estimate for Armenian deaths. And the war was started by a series of unfortunate misunderstandings. When one side loses 70,000 and the other loses 676 KIA, that’s not really a war, is it?

  2. It’s a sorry sight to see lies become the truth. The Pope has no authority to charge anyone with a crime. No charges, no conviction = no crime. It’s ludicrous how low the diaspora can go in pushing this blatant propaganda down all our throats.

  3. RVDV:
    For some reason this “first genocide” assertion seems to bother you greatly: why ?
    According to Wiki, Herero and Namaqua Genocides took place 1904 to 1907.
    Up to 100,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama were murdered by Germans.
    In the Bosnian Genocide about 10,000 Muslim Bosniacs were murdered by Serbs.
    In 1894-96 up to 300,000 Armenians were murdered by Sultan Hamid: was it anything other than Genocide ?
    What do we call that: Last Genocide of the 19th Century ?
    When the Armenian Genocide is discussed, the expression commonly used is “1.5 Million”: what about the 300,000(1895)+30,000(1909)?
    Should we Armenians feel slighted that those murdered Armenians before 1915 are not included ?
    Is there any doubt that the Genocide of Armenians continued after 1896 until 1923 and beyond ?
    Let me inject the definition of Genocide for reference:
    “Article II: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
    (a) Killing members of the group;

    (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

    (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

    (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

    (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
    Now, does anyone believe that after 1896, Turks suddenly stopped doing “in whole or in part” (a) thru (e) ?
    Does anyone believe they suddenly turned angels after 1896 until 1915 ?
    Not even one of the genocidal acts (a) thru (e) took place from 1900 thru 1903 ?
    The Armenian Genocide reached its apex in 1915-1923. But it started long before then.
    So I don’t see any technical inaccuracy labeling it as 1st of 20th.
    I think it is very sad and unfair that Herero and Nama genocides are not well known, and certainly there is a racial component to it because the victims were black and African, but unfortunately we live in an unfair world.
    (I didn’t know about it until RVDV brought it up some time ago).
    And I don’t think Armenians are obligated to publicize Herero & Nama or other Genocides.
    However, we are absolutely obligated _not_ to interfere with their recognition or publicity: and to the best of my knowledge no Armenian public figure or scholar, either in RoA or Diaspora, either voluntarily or for pay is in the business of denial of any Genocides.
    There is no honor in denying someone else’s genocide in order to advocate for recognition of one’s own.
    But there is no dishonor in promoting and advocating one’s own (mostly) either.

    • “For some reason this “first genocide” assertion seems to bother you greatly: why?”
      Nothing much too it, I believe we should keep the facts straight. And it’s not that important a fact anyway so why it keeps being brought, I dont know. Now if the first genocide in history took place in the 20th century, the “first genocide of the 20th” would be a much more significant fact. But there were countless other events in history where we could be debating genocide or not.
      Regarding the Hamidian Massacres of 1896, I think it just comes down to intent. I do not believe there was dolus specialis, or special intent, in that case. I believe that while there was intent to make the Armenians “disappear” via ethnocide, rape, and this did include mass killings, there was no specific intent, or death order, on the whole-scale murder of the Armenian people. Partial genocide/genocidal massacre is what most scholars would call it, and I agree. The genocidal massacre label can be attached to a event, if I remember correctly, even if ALL genocide convention criteria (a-e) apply, as the core issue comes down to special intent.
      “And I don’t think Armenians are obligated to publicize Herero & Nama or other Genocides.”
      Of course not, it’s they’re battle to still fight ultimately, as Germany conveniently said “no reparations” along with their official recognition in 2004.

  4. The Pope should canonize the 1.500,000 victims of the Armenian Genocide, Are there more martyrs than those assassinated by a Jihad declared at that time against these Christians by the Ottoman Empire? Our martyrs are Saints and the Vatican should aknowledge that.

  5. I cannot see why the Turkish government cannot recognize a mistake it made in the past.
    Germany recognized it, and life goes on. New generations are here; let them learn about the past; let them build a better future based on truth. My family was impacted by the genocide… the silver lining of this tragedy is that my father left that part of the world and met my mother: a different continent, a different race, a new life. And here we are now. We need to heal and go on… How hard is it to say I’m sorry… I’m Very Very sorry???

  6. It would be quite a stride if he could encourage all the priests in the Catholic churches worldwide to include this matter in their sermons, that could be interesting…

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