Turkey has summoned the Vatican’s ambassador in Ankara after Pope Francis used the word “genocide” on April 12 to describe the atrocities committed against the Armenians a century ago in the Ottoman Empire, a senior official has told Reuters. Turkey has not yet made an official statement on Pope Francis’ remarks, but has summoned the ambassador to protest the sermon.
Pope Francis held Solemn Mass for the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide today, during which he remembered “the first genocide of the 20th century,” spoke about the consequences of forgetting and denial, and proclaimed the Armenian Saint Gregory of Narek a Doctor of the Church. Catholicoi Karekin II and Aram I, along with Patriarch Catholicos Nerses Bedros XIX, arrived at the Basilica of Saint Peter with Pope Francis. Armenian President Serge Sarkisian was also present at the Holy Mass.
In his powerful remarks, Pope Francis spoke about three major tragedies of the past century: “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,”said Pope Francis. “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.”
In strong terms, Pope Francis condemned the failure to remember and the act of denial, which he said only kept wounds festering and bleeding. “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,” he said, stressing, “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!”
Pope Francis lamented that the “enthusiasm” for the prevention of genocides created after World War II was “dissipating,” as evidenced by inaction in face of today’s atrocities.
“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,’” said Pope Francis.