Pope Prays at Armenia Memorial after Denouncing Genocide
Tom Kington, Los Angeles Times
25 June 2016
Image: Pope Francis leads an open-air Mass in Vartanants Square in Gyumri, Armenia’s second-largest city. (Osservatore Romano)
On Saturday, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli called the pope’s speech a “great disgrace” that contained “all the reflexes of the Crusades.”
“It is not compatible with reality,” he said. “We all know it. The whole world knows it, including the Armenians.”
Sargsyan praised Francis for having used the word last year, saying on Friday that it prompted “a new wave of recognition” of the tragedy.
In his speeches on Friday and Saturday, Francis repeatedly said that future cruelty can be avoided by not whitewashing the past.
“May God protect the memory of the Armenian people. Memory should never be watered down or forgotten. Memory is the source of peace and the future,” he wrote in the guest book on Saturday during a somber visit to Armenia’s genocide memorial at Tsitsernakaberd.
Armenia is one of the world’s oldest Christian nations, having officially adopted the faith in the fourth century, and today 96% of the 3 million inhabitants are members of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Francis’ determination to keep a focus on the killings after the First World War follows his appeals to halt the slaughter of Christians today in war-torn Syria.
Addressing the crowd at evening prayers in Yerevan, Francis said, “A century has just passed from the ‘Great Evil’ unleashed upon you.”
He added that keeping the memory of the killings a century ago “is not only right, it is a duty. May they be a perennial warning lest the world fall back into the maelstrom of similar horrors!”
© 2016, Los Angeles Times
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