Turkey unhappy at Pope’s Armenian genocide comment

Turkey’s foreign ministry has protested to the Vatican after Pope Francis referred to the mass murder of Armenians as “the first genocide of the 20th century”.

The Pope alluded briefly to the Armenian genocide during a meeting with Armenian Catholic Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni of Cilicia.

An estimated 1 to 1.5 million Armenians died between 1915 and 1918 in massacres, in concentration camps, and on forced marches. But the government of Turkey has steadfastly denied that a genocidal campaign took place.

In a formal protest to the Vatican, the Turkish government “expressed disappointment” over the Pope’s remarks. It conveyed its displeasure to Vatican diplomatic representatives both in Ankara and in Rome.

The Pope’s comment came when he met members of the delegation accompanying the Catholic patriarch and one of them said she was a descendant of Armenian genocide victims.

He responded: “The first genocide of the 20th century was that of the Armenians.”

Several years earlier, while serving as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio described the killing and forced deportation of millions of Armenians as “the gravest crime of Ottoman Turkey against the Armenian people and all of humanity”.

Commenting on the issue, the primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church’s diocese of Gougark, Bishop Sebouh Chuljyan, said, “The Pope is speaking out a historical truth. Turkey needs to see the pains and should face the genocide.”

The director of the Armenian National Committee of South America, Alfonso Tabakian, described the Pope’s statement as “very important since his words transcend any state or religion”.



Armenian Genocide (Wikipedia)

Image: Mahir Zeynalov

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