WASHINGTON—Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian offered the following comment regarding Pope Francis’ statement reaffirming the Armenian Genocide, made earlier today during an unprecedented Vatican Mass commemorating the 100th anniversary of that crime. “Turkey underestimates, at its own risk, the power of our worldwide movement—a profoundly moral movement inspired by truth and driven by our shared hope for a fair and enduring peace based on a just international resolution of the Armenian Genocide,” said Hamparian.
In remarks delivered at the opening of the Commemorative Mass, Pope Francis noted, “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 first Christian nation, as well as Catholic and Orthodox Syrians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Greeks. Bishops and priests, religious, women and men, the elderly, and even defenseless children and the infirm were murdered.”
Pope Francis went on to state that “It is necessary, and indeed a duty, to honor their memory, for whenever memory fades, it means that evil allows wounds to fester. Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it!”
The full text of Pope Francis’ remarks is provided below.
At the end of the Mass, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, thanked Pope Francis for his reaffirmation of truth, and stated, “International law spells out clearly that condemnation, recognition, and reparation of a genocide are closely interconnected.” He went on to note that the Armenian cause is a cause of justice, and that justice is a gift of God. “Therefore, the violation of justice is a sin against God.”
In his remarks, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, stated, “Our ancient people were uprooted from their cradle and historic homeland and scattered around the world. Our centuries-old Christian heritage was torn down, destroyed, and seized. However, nothing—neither suffering, nor persecution or even death—forced our people to renounce their sacred faith.”
The video of the Centennial Mass and proceedings is available with English subtitles on the ANCA’s YouTube Channel:
The English translation of the Pope’s remarks, as published by Vatican Radio, is below.
Greeting of the Holy Father
Mass for the Faithful of the Armenian Rite
April 12, 2015
On a number of occasions I have spoken of our time as a time of war, a third world war which is being fought piecemeal, one in which we daily witness savage crimes, brutal massacres and senseless destruction. Sadly, today too we hear the muffled and forgotten cry of so many of our defenseless brothers and sisters who, on account of their faith in Christ or their ethnic origin, are publicly and ruthlessly put to death—decapitated, crucified, burned alive—or forced to leave their homeland.
Today too we are experiencing a sort of genocide created by general and collective indifference, by the complicit silence of Cain, who cries out: “What does it matter to me? Am I my brother’s keeper?” (cf. Gen 4:9; Homily in Redipuglia, Sept. 13, 2014).
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” (JOHN PAUL II and KAREKIN II, Common Declaration, Etchmiadzin, Sept. 27, 2001), struck your own Armenian people, the first Christian nation, as well as Catholic and Orthodox Syrians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Greeks. Bishops and priests, religious, women and men, the elderly, and even defenseless children and the infirm were murdered. The remaining two were perpetrated by Nazism and Stalinism. And more recently there have been other mass killings, like those in Cambodia, Rwanda, Burundi, and Bosnia. It seems that humanity is incapable of putting a halt to the shedding of innocent blood. It seems that the enthusiasm generated at the end of the Second World War has dissipated and is now disappearing. 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. We have not yet learned that “war is madness,” “senseless slaughter” (cf. Homily in Redipuglia, Sept. 13, 2014).
Dear Armenian Christians, today, with hearts filled with pain but at the same time with great hope in the risen Lord, we recall the centenary of that tragic event, that immense and senseless slaughter whose cruelty your forebears had to endure. It is necessary, and indeed a duty, to honor their memory, for whenever memory fades, it means that evil allows wounds to fester. Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it!
I greet you with affection and I thank you for your witness.
With gratitude for his presence, I greet Mr. Serge Sarkisian, the President of the Republic of Armenia.
My cordial greeting goes also to my brother Patriarchs and Bishops: His Holiness Kerekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia; His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX, Patriarch of Cilicia of Armenian Catholics; and Catholicosates of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Patriarchate of the Armenian Catholic Church.
In the firm certainty that evil never comes from God, who is infinitely good, and standing firm in faith, let us profess that cruelty may never be considered God’s work and, what is more, can find absolutely no justification in his Holy Name. Let us continue this celebration by fixing our gaze on Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, victor over death and evil!