Pope laments Armenian genocide, proclaims 36th doctor of the Church
April 13, 2015
Celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on April 12 for the faithful of the Armenian rite, Pope Francis officially proclaimed St. Gregory of Narek the 36th doctor of the Church.
In a Latin-language apostolic letter issued that day, Pope Francis discussed the saint’s life, his poetry and mysticism, and his theological works. In 1988, the hierarchy of the Armenian Catholic Church, an Eastern church in full communion with the Holy See, asked St. John Paul II to name St. Gregory a doctor of the Church, and over the decades the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith examined his writings.
Following a unanimous affirmative vote of a special commission, Pope Francis decided to name him a doctor of the Church on the centenary of the Armenian genocide.
The April 12 Mass was concelebrated by the patriarch of the Armenian Catholic Church. Also present at the sacred liturgy were the two leading figures of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the nation’s president.
During his homily, Pope Francis lamented the Armenian genocide, as well as other genocides, such as those perpetrated by Hitler and Stalin:
On a number of occasions I have spoken of our time as a time of war, a third world war which is being fought piecemeal, one in which we daily witness savage crimes, brutal massacres and senseless destruction. Sadly, today too we hear the muffled and forgotten cry of so many of our defenceless brothers and sisters who, on account of their faith in Christ or their ethnic origin, are publicly and ruthlessly put to death – decapitated, crucified, burned alive – or forced to leave their homeland.
Today too we are experiencing a sort of genocide created by general and collective indifference, by the complicit silence of Cain, who cries out: “What does it matter to me? Am I my brother’s keeper?” (cf. Gen 4:9; Homily in Redipuglia, 13 September 2014).
In the past century our human family has lived through three massive and unprecedented tragedies. The first, which is widely considered “the first genocide of the twentieth century” (JOHN PAUL II and KAREKIN II, Common Declaration, Etchmiadzin, 27 September 2001), struck your own Armenian people, the first Christian nation, as well as Catholic and Orthodox Syrians, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Greeks. Bishops and priests, religious, women and men, the elderly and even defenseless children and the infirm were murdered.
The remaining two were perpetrated by Nazism and Stalinism.
And more recently there have been other mass killings, like those in Cambodia, Rwanda, Burundi and Bosnia. It seems that humanity is incapable of putting a halt to the shedding of innocent blood. It seems that the enthusiasm generated at the end of the Second World War has dissipated and is now disappearing. It seems that the human family has refused to learn from its mistakes caused by the law of terror, so that today too there are those who attempt to eliminate others with the help of a few and with the complicit silence of others who simply stand by. We have not yet learned that “war is madness”, “senseless slaughter” (cf. Homily in Redipuglia, 13 September 2014).
“Dear Armenian Christians, today, with hearts filled with pain but at the same time with great hope in the risen Lord, we recall the centenary of that tragic event, that immense and senseless slaughter whose cruelty your forebears had to endure. It is necessary, and indeed a duty, to honor their memory, for whenever memory fades, it means that evil allows wounds to fester,” the Pope added. “Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it!”
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- Homily at Mass (scroll down for English)
- Holy Mass for the faithful of Armenian Rite - 2015.04.12 (Vatican YouTube)
- Message of Pope Francis to Armenians (Vatican Radio)
- Pope Francis: greetings to Armenian pilgrims (Vatican Radio)
- Greetings of Catholicos Aram I of Cilicia (Vatican Radio)
- Pope Francis: Apostolic letter on St. Gregory of Narek
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