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Pope urges reconciliation between Armenia, Turkey, peace in Karabakh

Pope urges reconciliation between Armenia, Turkey, peace in Karabakh

June 25
Pope Francis on Saturday, June 25 urged young people in Armenia to be active peacemakers in a world suffering from persecutions and conflict. Francis and the Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Karekin II delivered an ecumenical service and a prayer for peace at the Republic Square in Yerevan. "May God bless your future and grant that the people of Armenia and Turkey take up again the path of reconciliation, and may peace also spring forth in Nagorno Karabakh," the pope said citing an earlier message dating April 12, 2015. Speaking at the open air prayer service to leaders of all the Churches in Armenia, the Pope called on people of faith to abandon “rigid opinions and personal interests”, showing instead humility and generosity on the path towards full Christian unity. Pope Francis, in his words to the Christian leaders, also spoke of that “immense and senseless slaughter”, saying it is not only right, but also a duty to keep the memory of that tragedy alive. But memory, he insisted, must be transformed by love and by the driving force of faith to sow seeds of peace for the future. Memory, infused with love, he said, becomes capable of setting out on new and unexpected paths, where designs of hatred become projects of reconciliation. The Pope also spoke of the wars and conflicts in the Middle East today, fueled by the proliferation of weapons and by the arms trade. Addressing the young people present in the windswept square, he urged them to become peacemakers, “actively engaged in building a culture of encounter and reconciliation.” Citing a famous 12th century Armenian figure, Catholicos Nerses IV, remembered as a champion of efforts towards church unity, Pope Francis said Christians must find the courage to abandon rigid opinions and personal interests in order to “heal memories and bind up past wounds”. He urged Armenians to work with humility and generosity for a peaceful society, based on dignified employment for all, care for those most in need and the elimination of corruption. At the end of the prayer service, the Pope and the Catholicos watered seedlings of a vine planted by young Armenians in a model of Noah's Ark, believed to have come to rest after the great flood on the slopes of Mount Ararat, whose snow capped peaks dominate the eastern part of the country. Francis arrived in Yerevan, Armenia on Friday. His plane landed at the Zvartnots International Airport at 3:00pm local time. The pope was greeted with the Hrashapar (wondrously glorious) service, which is traditionally offered as a service of welcome to top religious clerics. The pontiff then arrived at the presidential palace and was greeted by Sargsyan. The two headed for the receptions hall for an auditorium. On Saturday, the pope visited the Armenian memorial, afterwards serving a holy massin Gyumri, Armenia's second largest city. Read also:Pope Francis visits Armenian Genocide memorial Pope Francis serves holy mass in Armenia’s Gyumri
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