(Vatican Radio) In response to Pope Francis' words during the Mass for the centenary of the Armenian "Martyrdom" on Sunday morning, the Turkish government -- which has always been sensitive to the use of the term "genocide" with regard to the slaughter of Armenians between 1915 and 1917 -- has recalled the ambassador to the Holy See for consultations; and has called Apostolic Nuncio in Ankara, Archbishop Antonio Lucibello, to express its disappointment.
Pope Francis, greeting the Armenian faithful at the beginning of Mass, quoted Saint John Paul II in his praise of the faith of the Armenian people. "This faith," he said, "accompanied and sustained your people during the tragic experience one hundred years ago 'in what is generally referred to as the first genocide of the twentieth century'." The Holy Father was quoting from the Common Declaration issued by St John Paul and the Armenian Catholicos Karekin II in September 2001.
"It is the responsibility not only of the Armenian people and the universal Church to recall all that has taken place, but of the entire human family, so that the warnings from this tragedy will protect us from falling into a similar horror, which offends against God and human dignity," Pope Francis continued. "Today too, in fact, these conflicts at times degenerate into unjustifiable violence, stirred up by exploiting ethnic and religious differences."
Pope Francis said the anniversary of the tragedy of the Metz Yeghern, the "Great Crime," should be "for all an occasion of humble and sincere reflection, and may every heart be open to forgiveness, which is the source of peace and renewed hope." He prayed that Armenians and Turks might "take up again the path of reconciliation, noting that "despite conflicts and tensions, Armenians and Turks have lived long periods of peaceful coexistence in the past and, even in the midst of violence, they have experienced times of solidarity and mutual help." Only in this way, he said, "will new generations open themselves to a better future and will the sacrifice of so many become seeds of justice and peace."
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