Turkey Summons Vatican Envoy after Pope Says ‘Genocide’

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.

A scene from the Holy Mass
A scene from the Holy Mass

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.


  1. The has stated the truth. The guilty party feels hurt and contnues to hide behind false denials. Turks have not changed. We will know they have changed if they accept their guilt. That is the right thing to do if they want to become a civilized nation.

  2. It’s not the first time Turkey is summing his ambassadors… and sending back again. The West dose not want to understand that it’s Turkey who needs the West and not vice versa.

    • The Turks are feigning a temper tantrum, acting like petulant children. They’ll be back soon enough. Or better yet, they can pull all their so-called diplomats meddling around the world and keep them home, permanently.

  3. Upon reading Pope Francis’ words, I immediately remembered the sad stories recalled by my grandparents, every syllable uttered in his statement resonated deep in my heart. The Pope’s sentiments are both courageous and bold at a time when many world leaders remain silent and cowardly. Pope Francis has achieved a huge and historic step in soothing our Armenian souls and the wounding that genocide denial has brought.

  4. The Catholic Pope has shown the courage, nerve and honesty to label this what it is-a genocide. Too bad the Israeli Prime Minister lacked that honesty. Why are other Christian denominations silent?

  5. The Pope set a safety valve with his statement. Instead of using his own words to describe the events as genocide, Pope Francis actually quoted a statement signed by Pope John Paul II and the Armenian patriarch in 2001. The only added feature was that it was the first time the term was spoken aloud in connection with Armenia by a head of the Roman Catholic Church in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

    The 2001 statement, which the Pope read aloud was…..”The first, which is widely considered ‘the first genocide of the 20th century’, struck your own Armenian people,”

    • Yes, of course: Turks, Turkbaijanis and their Turkophile agents desperately attempting to put a spin on what Pope Francis said.
      Apparently if you listen closely enough, Pope Frances didn’t actually say ‘Genocide’.
      Poor Turks: they are so sure Pope Frances didn’t really say ‘Genocide’, but all those hate-filled deluded Christians believe he did.
      That’s why your denialist Turk buddies in Ankara went hysterical: because Pope Francis didn’t say what he actually said.

    • And here’s extracts from the 1915 Ottoman fatwa issued by Sheikh Shawish that called to religiously motivated violence against non-Muslims of the Ottoman empire:

      “If you believe in God, in his faith and Apostle, hear the words of our sages as recorded by his holy Prophet: ‘You believers take not the Jews and Christians as friends unto you, He who loves them shall be called one of them’. You believers accept not unto you friends of these who abuse your faith and mock thereof. They are called unbelievers, and you hearken unto the words of God of you believe. Therefore, if after you will put to heart to these sacred words, perhaps they have been spoken to you by God not to acquire unto us Jewish or Christian friends. From these holy words you will realize that it is forbidden us to approach […] Jews and Christians, for then, God forbid, we shall be deemed by the Almighty as one of them God forbid…. After all this how can we believe in the sincerity of your faith when you befriend and love unbelievers, and accept their Government without any rising, without attempting to expel them from your country. Therefore, arise […] to the Holy War no matter what it costs so as to carry into execution this sacred deed. […]”

      No comments…

    • You are right to be skeptical. But after watching the entire service and listened to the speakers carefully, and the context–honoring Krikor Naregatsi with a singular title and giving voice to our two catholicoi — I do not think the Pope is dissimulating. He was forthright, direct, and courageous. BRAVO.

  6. The message from The Pope is the most gratifying and encouraging news ever. What a tremendous break-through and courageous act for our benefit. Pope Francis, thank you over and over again, on behalf of my family and all Armenians world over.

    • I agree with you, but he should have used it in his own words. He referred to the genocide in the context of the 2001 statement. His attempt at appeasing the Turks is obvious, but nevertheless, it was still historical. We must keep in mind that the Vatican is also concerned with the well being of the entire Christian community of the east and orient. As recently as this past November when Pope Francis visited Ankara, Erdogan tried to cut a deal by offering to protect the Christians of the east if the Vatican were to fight Islamophobia in Europe. The recent attacks on Armenian and Christian neighborhoods in Aleppo can easily be interpreted as a Turkish message to the Vatican. A message that shows what Turkey is capable of doing if push comes to shove.

  7. Words can never explain how grateful I am that you Pope Francis had a service Commemorating the Genocide of The Armenians. I watch the entire service today and cried most of the time so thankful that you did this for the Armenians Worldwide today. The Mass with parts of it in Armenian , The Lord’s Prayer (in Armenian) in ST Peter’s was so beautiful to hear as was the requiem mass for the Genocide Victims. I stood in front of my computer for the entire service. I thank you again. May God Bless you and watch over you and Keep you strong and steadfast in speaking the Truth.

  8. Turkey’s ambassador left with wagging tail, and after having some Turkish delights, will be back to Vatican with tail between his legs.

  9. Thank you Holy Father. On behalf of my mother and me, I would like to thank you for your courage in recognizing the Armenian Genocide . My mother, the Genocide survivor, who is 95 years old now, was born inEastern Armenia in the city of Sivas ( now Turkey) She resides with me in Belmont, Massachusetts.

  10. As an alevi turk i dont think this is gonna change anything.Turkısh nation wont ever accept or recognize the genocide.i for one advise my armenian neighbours to drop their aspiration of getting back eastern turkish lands. You can not strong arm country like turkey so best course of action would be show of goodwill. Under current demands from armenians turks cant even think about recognizing the genocide nobody in turkey would give up an inch of land in light of this fact its futile to get pope obama or any irrelevant leader to say the word.in my opinion turkey in long run will be open to consider recignition and pay compensation(moneywise) if land demands are dropped.

    • As a Christian Armenian, I think this is another significant change: another large chip in the denialist dam erected by denialist Turks.

      In 1965 only Armenians and a few scholars knew about the AG.
      Notice any change between 1965 and 2015 ?

      ‘Turkish nation’ ? what is that ?
      Is it the 25-30 million Kurds oppressed by Turks ?
      Is it the 10 million Alevi Turks oppressed by majority Sunni Turks ?
      The leader of Sunni Islamists in Turkey, Erdogan, considers Alevis, quote, “freaks”: is that the alleged “nation” you are talking about ?
      There is no Turkish nation: it’s an unnatural, criminal State held together by force.

      {“ i for one advise my armenian neighbours to drop their aspiration of getting back eastern turkish lands.”}

      I for one kindly reject the suggestion from my Alevi Turk neighbor.
      There are no so-called ‘eastern turkish lands’: Western Armenia is presently populated almost entirely by ethnic Kurds.
      Hardly any ethnic Turks living there: what ‘turkish lands’ ?

      And nobody on our side that I know of realistically expects Turkey to recognize the AG, much less pay for the damage and return our lands.
      It makes absolutely no difference though: our goal is to “surround Turkey with an AG recognition” ring.
      No country in this world can stand alone against all others.
      Decrepit Turkey is being propped up by the West: US and Europe.
      By reverting to their Islamist roots, Turks are gradually distancing themselves from the West.
      Their prop is slowly withering away.

      Kurds will become independent eventually.
      Aveli and Sunni Turks will break off into separate countries.
      Kemalist and Islamist Turks will be in-fighting for decades.

      Armenians can afford to wait: time is on our side.
      We have other important things to take care of at the moment.
      We’ll let the Turkish chorba cook for a while.
      When it’s ready, we’ll have the steel ladle ready.

    • “Pope […] or any irrelevant leader”

      This ”irrelevant” leader is revered by 1.2 billion Catholic Christians throughout the world. Using the “Turkish logic” do please explain how such figure can be irrelevant?

      “Eastern Turkish lands”

      What is it? A Turkish joke? Have you ever heard of the Six Armenian Provinces that existed during the Ottoman colonization era? Have you ever heard of the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, which was fought by your nomadic Seljuk predecessors from Central Asia in order to penetrate into Armenia, Cappadocia, and Asia Minor? Who were living on those lands before 1071, might you know?

    • Turkey is too big for an indigenous Turk like yourself. A time will come, when Balkanization and the faith of a “deep state Turkey” will be decided by interested ethnic groups of “Turkified” people.

  11. @ avery are you being sarcastic or did i just see script from fantsay movie? cause sure sounds like iti ı can see your harboring great hate for turks but dont let it effect your logic. if you wont drop some of your demands thousand years from now you ll still be trying to get turkey recognize the genocie. do you really think christianism is the norm that hold all west together? most of them would not even think twice about armenisn issues so dont really think they will pressure on turkey they have their own interests @john how many christian are freally christian? and how many christian has hearfelt feelings for armenians? an italin christian will just stop coming to turkey cause they will remember that turks committed genocide? do you still think europe is christian? 1.2 billion christain sounds tough but in fact they couldnt care less.Turkeys borders are recognized right? yes and the lands we are talking about fall in where? you are right inside turkish territoryi so its only logical to call them turkish land. What you are asking you and avery is just not doable or possible.But you can always keep dreaming about chorba thats up to you

    • Someone who believes he can predict what will happen “thousand years from now” has clearly _not_ been watching any fantasy movies.
      No ?

    • “Turkeys borders are recognized right? yes and the lands we are talking about fall in where? you are right inside turkish territory so its only logical to call them turkish land.”

      Yes, it is only characteristic to Turkish logic to call the lands that belonged to other people Turkish. Never mind that the Turks were invaders, looters, oppressors, and genocide perpetrators. The important thing is that the lands now fall in where? Turkey. But how, by what barbarian means and crimes against humanity were these lands acquired is not important according to “Turkish logic”. Why aren’t these things important to Turks? Because modern Turks (well, not all of them, of course, but certainly the majority) are the same uncouth nomadic invaders that they’ve been a thousand years ago. They just don’t care that Asia Minor was inhabited by nobler, sedentary and more civilized peoples and that the Seljuks came from the Central Asian steppes and the areas adjacent to the Altay Mountains to invade and destroy them. All the Turks care is that as a result of genocidal extermination of the Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks and the theft of the lands that belonged to these indigenous populations, these lands now fall where? Right you are. Turkey. This is the level of the Turkish mentality and the acumen of “Turkish logic”. You will NEVER become civilized. Never.

  12. @John There isa fine line between prejudice and racism one often feeds and crosways with other if not controlled.i know that you consider turks to be barbarian uncivilized blood thirsty etc that image is not true most turks are very educated civilized and do not wish harm on anyone.Times has changed this is not 1915.Now lets make something clear i see you are kind of offended by my using correct terminology under current state of matters what was once yours nows turks what was once indians now americans.if its gonna make you happy i can say former armenian lands but that just seemed trivial since everyone knows who lived here before turks arrived. another thing is i do support recignition of armenian genocide but my mind is rather sceptical on the possibility of such a thing happening.see turkey turks even if you kill them wont even think to consider land swaps so how is this situation can be solved? there seems to be only 2 way. one either one day civilized armenians will pick up arms and march on turkey to kill all turks to somehow balance the pain inflicted on them by their perpatrators or they will for the sake of greater good give up some demands like return of former armenian lands. what do you truly want jhon? i am really asking to learn what armenians really want.imagine this as conflict between two person to reach an understanding there needs to be compromise. now hear me out is this bad offer? turkey will recognize genocide pay compensation return all confiscated buildings lands to armenian owners if owners are now alive their kins offer citizenship and ask for forgiveness.is this not fair ?if so please state your mind

  13. My words are not indicative of either prejudice or more so racism. My words come from the KNOWLEDGE I acquired from my grandparents’ firsthand witness accounts, and no mantra about Turks having changed since 1915 would ever alter my firm conviction in that, if given a chance, modern Turks will do the same. Proof? Turkish military advances against the First Republic of Armenia in 1918-1920, burning of the Greek and Armenian quarters of Smyrna in 1922, the consecutive history of Kemalist Turkey, whose governments finished the dirty job of the murderous Young Turks in homogenization of Turkey, murders of Hrant Dink and Catholic bishops in our own times, etc. We’ve seen “very educated, civilized and harmless” Turks dancing and singing in front of the Turkish Embassy in Washington, DC on the most profound day for all Armenians, April 24th. We’ve seen “very educated, civilized and harmless” Turks holding anti-Armenian banners that called us bastards and that threatened to invade Yerevan. We’ve seen “very educated, civilized and harmless” Turks represented by their government, which until this day refuses to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia, imposed and maintains the blockade of Armenia and supports Azerbaijan in its war against Armenian Artsakh. If modern-day Turks are so “very educated, civilized and harmless”, what possibly prevents them to question their government’s brainwashing when it comes to the bloody history of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic? What prevents them, in this age of advanced technologies and the Internet, to look into the archives, recorded witness accounts, missionaries’ reports, survivors’ stories, diplomatic dispatches, and other accounts–all testifying that a campaign of race annihilation was underway against the Armenians and other Christians of the Ottoman empire? What prevents “very educated, civilized and harmless” Turks to question their government as to what could possibly happen to 2.5 million Armenians who lived on their ancestral lands for millennia before 1915, whereas only 60,000 now are left in Turkey? If you, Turks, consider yourselves “very educated and civilized” what prevents you to find the courage to repent and offer apologies to the Armenians? You know who are truly civilized in contrast to backward Turks? Germans. Their Nazi predecessors committed heinous crimes against the Eastern European Jews, but the level of civility of their nation is measured by its ability to repent, which Germans did. Turks will never by their own, unless they’re cornered as sewer rats, be willing to repent. You simply don’t have that civilizational capacity, because most of the Turks (again, certainly not all of them) are descendants of nomadic conquerors and to give back what was looted and stolen from others, especially even if they are non-Muslims, is just non-existent in your psyche. Americans, in contrast to the Turks, acknowledged their wrongdoings against he Indians. Various governmental programs are designated to offer material and financial compensations to the Indians. Reservations are specifically created for the Indians. Even a Museum of the American Indian is erected next to the US Capitol. Turks, on the other hand, only shamelessly reject the truth for 100 years, distort history, and spend huge amounts of money to confront the advancement of justice by the Armenians. Did you get the difference, or I need to repeat it for “very educated and civilized” Turks? If everyone knows who lived in Eastern provinces of modern Turkey, then have guts to call things by their name and admit that these lands were emptied of their indigenous Armenian population as a result of forced deportations and outright genocidal mass murders. And this truth will not “make me happy”. I know it as a descendant of those deported and killed by your forefathers. Rather, this truth, as the Bible says, will set YOU free. How could this situation be resolved? My personal scenario, as far as I can see the events unfolding in the region, is that the creation of independent Kurdistan on the lands of southeastern Turkey and Northern Iraq is just a matter of time. Ottoman Turkish cowards could wipe out 2.5 mln unarmed people–women, children, elders, the infirm, and even unborn children ripped off their mothers’ wombs (if this is not barbarism, then what is it?)–but you can do NOTHING against the 25 mln Kurds and several other millions of Zazas and Alewis. And when, not even IF, Kurdistan is created, Armenians will know how to make a deal with the Kurds, as long as it is not loathed Turks. Don’t worry. You’ll see. Hopefully in your lifetime…

  14. @ john hmm that was interesting.there is no depth to what you wrote but it contains much emotion that i see as an obstacle towards peace.What got my attention more is that you didint answer my question you just cut it with “we will deal with kurds”. so i ask again what will you demand from kurds? it certainly doesnt make sense to me kurds after years of struggling to get autonomy will negotiate with you very civilized armenians on your terms? i dont see any logical approach on my armenian fiends but rather emotion soaked responses.But i wanna tell you something only afew million kurds supports breakaway others are proud to be turkish citizen as for alevis we dont even consider such idea so the question is who is feeding you these wrong opinions? maybe armenian media which i dont follow much. you are probably an senior armenian so what your grandparent went through must have profoundly effected your judgment towards whole nation i dont blame you But a sound mind would see that turkey let alone in mylifetime not in thousand years would be seperated.İwanna ask again what does armenians truly want? isnt here any brave person to say it all? i wanna see what your solution is…

  15. I have personally never understood the hysterical reaction so many Turkish officials and governments show at such proclamations and statements. My wish is even for the Eskimo congress to pass such a resolution so that we can all move on and plan future instead of prosecuting history. Facts remain exactly as they are no matter who says what. It is not a popularity contest. It is recorded, documented and can not be revised.

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