- John L. Allen Jr.
- Jun 28, 2016
Armenians say Pope Francis will be widely welcomed during his June 24- 26 visit not only because he’s recognized the genocide, but also for his moral stance on pressing world issues and for his decision to elevate St. Gregory of Narek, a 10th-century Armenian monk, to the rank of Doctor of the Church.
With every papal trip, the intended audiences and agenda items can usually be understood in terms of concentric circles, starting at the outer level and working one’s way in. That’s clearly the case with regard to Pope Francis’s June 24-26 outing to Armenia, which makes a statement about this pontiff’s priorities on the peripheries, ecumenism, geopolitics, and pastoral concern for a tiny Catholic minority.
It’s not that the Vatican is saying the carnage in question, either from a century ago in Armenia or the present in Iraq and Syria, doesn’t rise to the level of a “genocide.” It’s instead that the word “genocide,” as terrifying and awful as it sounds, almost isn’t enough to capture the full reality of the horror involved.
Pope Francis will visit the Armenian Genocide memorial complex during a three-day visit to the country in June.
Pope Francis on Sunday celebrated a Mass honoring the memory of the Armenian martyrs, and hours after Turkey recalled its ambassador to the Vatican.
Pope Francis is scheduled to celebrate a service in the Armenian Catholic rite to commemorate the 100th anniversary of a mass killing of Armenians in the early 20th. He has long been aware of the calamity that befell Turkey’s Armenian minority, having led an ecumenical service of remembrance in Buenos Aires in 2006.