Ecumenical relations, the memory of past suffering and prayers for a future of peace form the framework for Pope Francis’ itinerary when he visits Armenia from 24th to 26th June.
Following in the footsteps of St. John Paul II, who visited Armenia in 2001, Pope Francis will spend much of his time in the country as the guest of the majority Armenian Apostolic Church and will attend a divine liturgy celebrated by Catholicos Karekin II, the Orthodox patriarch, on 26th June.
Pope Francis, like St. John Paul, is also scheduled to visit the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial, a monument to the estimated 1.5 million Armenians killed by Ottoman Turks in 1915-18.
Before celebrating a Mass last year with Armenian Christians commemorating the deaths, Pope Francis referred to the killings as “genocide,” a term to which the Turkish government objects. Turkey called its ambassador back to Ankara where he stayed almost a year until the Vatican issued a clarifying statement welcoming the Turkish government’s commitment to opening its archives for study of “the tragic events of 1915.”
Picture: Pope Francis embraces Catholicos Karekin II of Etchmiadzin, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. (CNS photo/Cristian Gennari).