Pope says ‘genocide’, Turkey says ‘crusader’

Turkey’s deputy prime minister says Pope Francis reflects a “crusader mentality” for once again using the word “genocide” about a 1915 massacre in Armenia.

During a visit to Armenia, Francis used the word in a speech.

Francis departed from a carefully prepared text to use the word.

As the prepared text indicated, Francis first referred to the killings by their Armenian description as the Metz Yeghérn, or the “Great Evil”.

He then continued: “Sadly, that tragedy – that genocide-was the first of the deplorable series of catastrophes of the past century, made possible by twisted racial, ideological or religious aims that darkened the minds of the tormentors even to the point of planning the annihilation of entire peoples.”

In 1915, 1.5 million Armenians were massacred in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire.

Last year, Francis used the word “genocide” to describe this event.

This infuriated Turkey at the time.

Ankara recalled its ambassador to the Vatican and kept him away for 10 months

Turkey waited more than 24 hours to react to the Pope’s latest remark.

“Of course the Pope’s statement is very unfortunate,” Turkey’s deputy prime minister Nurettin Canikli told reporters.

“It is unfortunately possible to see all the reflections and traces of Crusader mentality in the actions of papacy and the Pope.”

The Vatican responded by saying “the Pope is on no crusade”.

Spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ, said: “He is not trying to organise wars or build walls but he wants to build bridges.”

“He has not said a word against the Turkish people.”

The word “genocide” appeared again in a joint declaration signed by Francis and the head of the Armenian Church at the end of the Pope’s visit.

On his flight back from Armenia, Francis said he had not used the word with “offensive intent”.

Rather, he said, he had used the term “objectively”.

Turkey accepts that many Christian Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War One.

Turkey accepts that many Christian Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War One.

But it contests the figures and denies that the killings were systematically orchestrated and constitute a genocide.

It also says many Muslim Turks perished at that time.

Sources

News category: World.

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