Pope Focuses on Divine Mercy in Mass for Armenians

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
13 Apr 2015

Pope Francis welcomes the head of Armenia's Orthodox Church

On Divine Mercy Sunday, the second Sunday after Easter, Pope Francis celebrated Solemn Mass for the Centenary of the Armenian Martyrdom.

During the Liturgy, the Holy Father proclaimed the great Armenian Saint Gregory of Narek a Doctor of the Universal Church.

Pope Francis processed into the Basilica of Saint Peter flanked by the Catholicos Karekin II and Aram I of the Armenian Apostolic Church, with the Patriarch Catholicos Nerses Bedros XIX a few paces ahead. Patriarch Nerses concelebrated Mass with the Holy Father.

Leaders of the Armenian Church during the Mass with Pope Francis

Greeting the Armenian faithful who had come to Rome for the event, Pope Francis spoke out against cruelty, recalling the occasions when he had previously spoken of "a third world war" being fought piecemeal, a war "in which we daily witness savage crimes, brutal massacres and senseless destruction." He said; "....we are experiencing a sort of genocide created by a general and collective indifference, by the complicit silence of Cain…"

Pope Francis noted three "massive and unprecedented tragedies" of the twentieth century, the first of which was the "Great Crime," the systematic massacre of Armenian Christians who were slaughtered because of their faith. The atrocities of the Nazis and the Communists, along with other mass killings, makes it seem as if "humanity is incapable of putting a halt to the shedding of innocent blood… We have not yet learned," he said, "that 'war is madness,' a 'senseless slaughter.'"

Clergymen attend the Armenian-rite Mass

It is necessary, and even a duty, he said, to recall these events, notably the massacre of the Armenians, "with hearts filled with pain, but at the same time with great hope in the risen Christ."

The Mass also marked the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Medz Yeghern, in which as many as 1.5 million Armenians perished under the Ottoman Empire around 1915, the time of World War I and an event widely viewed by scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century.

However Turkey has always denied the genocide took place, insisting the toll has been inflated and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.

Turkey was quick to protest following the Pope's words saying the comments were far from historical and judicial facts, adding " religious offices are not places to incite hatred and revenge with baseless accusations". Turkey recalled its Ambassador to the Holy See.

Pope Francis' comments on Armenian genocide upset Turkey

The Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan said;" We are deeply grateful to His Holiness Pope Francis for the idea of this unprecedented liturgy...which symbolises our solidarity with the people of the Christian world."

Pope Francis said the genocide continues today against Christians "who, on account of their faith in Christ or their ethnic origin, are publicly and ruthlessly put to death - decapitated, crucified, buried alive - or forced to leave their homeland."

For the Pope's address and homily and