June 25, 2016 - 17:07 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Within hours of his arrival in Armenia, His Holiness Pope Francis clearly and explicitly referenced the Armenian Genocide during remarks offered alongside Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian, ending unfounded international speculation about his willingness to unambiguously condemn this crime, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“Armenians worldwide appreciate the Pope's explicit condemnation of the Armenian Genocide - as a clear case of genocide - upon his arrival in Armenia,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Pope Francis - through words and actions - continues to openly challenge Turkey's denial of the Armenian Genocide. By speaking directly and fearlessly about the Armenian Genocide, this time upon Armenian soil - and then making a pilgrimage to pray at the sacred Tsitsernakaberd memorial - the Pope is both strengthening Christian solidarity with Armenia and taking a courageous stand for truth and justice.”
Referencing the historic mass held last April in Saint Peter’s Basilica, together with Their Holinesses Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch-Catholicos of All Armenians, and Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, and His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX, Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, recently deceased, Pope Francis stated today, “The occasion was the commemoration of the centenary of the Metz Yeghérn, the ‘Great Evil’ that struck your people and caused the death of a vast multitude of persons. 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.”
Francis arrived in Armenia Friday and was greeted by the Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Karekin II, President Serzh Sargsyan and First Lady Rita Sargsyan.
Upon his arrival on Friday, the pope was greeted in Etchmiadzin with the Hrashapar (wondrously glorious) service, which is traditionally offered as a service of welcome to top religious clerics.
He then left for the presidential palace in Yerevan and was greeted by Sargsyan. The two headed for the receptions hall for an auditorium.
On Saturday, he visited the Armenian Genocide memorial and left a note in the guestbook. Later that day, together with the Catholicos he served a mass in Gyumri, Armenia's second biggest city.