Thursday, 30 June 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian... Pope Francis arrives in Armenia

Pope Francis arrives in Armenia – Photos 

The Catholic Register
June 24 2016
Pope arrives in Armenia, speaks of faith, hope and future
By  Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Catholicos Karekin II, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and Pope Francis arrive to visit the Armenian Apostolic Cathedral at Etchmiadzin in Vagharshapat, Armenia, June 24.
Catholicos Karekin II, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and Pope Francis arrive to visit the Armenian Apostolic Cathedral at Etchmiadzin in Vagharshapat, Armenia, June 24.

YEREVAN, Armenia – A solid, sorrow-tested Christian faith gives believers the strength to overcome even the most horrific adversity, forgive one's enemies and live in peace, Pope Francis said.
Arriving in Armenia June 24, Pope Francis went straight to the twin concerns of his three-day visit: Promoting Christian unity and honoring the determined survival of Armenian Christianity despite a historic massacre and decades of Soviet domination.
The high profile of the pope's ecumenical concern and the importance of faith in Armenian culture were highlighted by making the trip's first official appointment a visit to the cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church at Etchmiadzin.
The arrival ceremony at the airport was defined as informal, but featured a review of the troops and a greeting by a young boy and a young girl, who offered Pope Francis the traditional gifts of bread and salt. His entrance into Holy Etchmiadzin, as it commonly is known, was heralded with the pealing of church bells. As the pope and patriarch processed down the aisle between crowds of flag-waving faithful, a deacon led them, swinging an incense burner.
For the first two events on the papal itinerary, the English translations of the speeches of the pope's hosts – the Armenian Orthodox patriarch and the country's president – repeatedly used the word "genocide" to describe the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1918.
The pope's prepared text for his speech in Italian used the Armenian term "Metz Yeghern" or its Italian equivalent, "the Great Evil." However, when speaking, the pope added the Italian "genocidio."
Turkey objects to the term "genocide" and recalled its Vatican ambassador for about a year after Pope Francis in April 2015 quoted St. John Paul II in describing the massacre as the first genocide of the 20th century. 
Pope Francis, visiting the Orthodox cathedral at Etchmiadzin and addressing government officials later at the presidential palace, did not focus on the tragedy, but on the faith of the country's 3 million people, the need for reconciliation and peace in the region and the role of Christians in showing the world that faith is a power for the good of humanity.
For both nights of his trip, Pope Francis was to be the houseguest of Catholicos Karekin II, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
"This sign of love eloquently bespeaks, better than any words can do, the meaning of friendship and fraternal charity," the pope said.
In a world "marked by divisions and conflicts, as well as by grave forms of material and spiritual poverty," he said, people expect Christians to provide a witness and example of mutual esteem and close collaboration.
All examples of brotherly love and cooperation, despite real differences existing among Christians, the pope said, "radiate light in a dark night and a summons to experience even our differences in an attitude of charity and mutual understanding."
Besides being an example of how dialogue is the only way to settle differences, he said, "it also prevents the exploitation and manipulation of faith, for it requires us to rediscover faith's authentic roots," defending and spreading truth with respect for the human dignity of all.
Catholicos Karekin echoed the pope's emphasis on the importance of Christian cooperation "for keeping and cherishing Christian ethical values in the world (and) for strengthening love" which is the only path to true security and prosperity.
He told the pope, "after the destruction caused by the Armenian Genocide and the godless years of the Soviet era, our church is living a new spiritual awakening." Nearly 90 percent of Armenia's population belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church; Catholics, mostly belonging to the Eastern-rite Armenian Catholic Church, make up almost 10 percent of the population.
At the presidential palace later, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan praised Pope Francis for having used the word "genocide" a year ago. "We don't look for culprits. We don't spread accusations," he said, according to the English text given to reporters. "We simply want things to be called by their names." 
While the pope and president were meeting privately, Armenian public television broadcast images from the Armenian memorial prayer service Pope Francis presided over at the Vatican last year. They included the clip of him using the word "genocide."
Pope Francis told the president and government officials, "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 extended to "planning the annihilation of entire peoples."
Unfortunately, he said, "the great international powers looked the other way."
"Having seen the depths of evil unleashed by "hatred, prejudice and the untrammeled desire for dominion," people must make renewed commitments to ensuring differences are resolved with dialogue, he said.
"In this regard, it is vitally important that all those who declare their faith in God join forces to isolate those who use religion to promote war, oppression and violent persecution, exploiting and manipulating the holy name of God," Pope Francis said.
At a time when Christians are again experiencing discrimination and persecution, he said, it is essential that world leaders make their primary goal "the quest for peace, the defense and acceptance of victims of aggression and persecution, (and) the promotion of justice and sustainable development."

Vatican Radio
Pope Francis: Official schedule for Armenia visit in June 

Friday 24th June 

09.00 Departure from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport for Yerevan 

15.00 Arrival at Yereven’s Zvaretnots Airport with welcome ceremony there. 

15.35 Visit to pray at Apostolic Cathedral at Etchmiadzin (Greetings given by Catholicos of All Armenia, Karekin II and by Pope Francis) 

18.00 Courtesy visit to Armenia's President in the Presidential Palace. 

18.30 Meeting with civil authorities and the Diplomatic Corps in the Presidential Palace (speech by the Pope) 

19.30 Private meeting with Catholicos in the Apostolic Palace 

Saturday 25th June 

08.45 Visit to Tzitzernakaberd Memorial Complex 

10.00 Journey by plane to Gyumri 

11.00 Holy Mass in Gyumri’s Vartanants Square (Homily By the Pope and greeting by Catholicos) 

16.45 Visit to the Armenian Apostolic Cathedral of the Seven Wounds 

17.15 Visit to the Holy Martyrs Armenian Catholic Cathedral in Gyumri 

18.00 Journey by plane back to Yerevan 

19.00 Ecumenical Encounter and Prayer for Peace in Yerevan’s Republic Square 

Sunday 26th June 

09.15 Meeting with Catholic Bishops of Armenia in the Apostolic Palace at Etchmiadzin 

10.00 Participation in Divine Liturgy in the Armenian Apostolic Cathedral (Homily by Catholicos and greeting by the Pope) 

Ecumenical Lunch with the Catholicos, Archbishops and Bishops of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholic Bishops of Armenia and Cardinals and Bishops from the Papal entourage in the Apostolic Palace. 

15.00 Meeting with delegates and benefactors of the Apostolic Armenian Church in the Apostolic Palace 

16.05 Signing of Joint Declaration in the Apostolic Palace 

17.00 Prayer at Khor Virap Monastery 

18.15 Farewell Ceremony at airport 

18.30 Departure by plane for Rome 

20.40 Arrival at Rome’s Ciampino Airport 

[please note the use of quotes around the word genocide]
Pope speaks of Armenian 'genocide' in Yerevan visit


Pope Francis kisses the Holy Book as he visits the Apostolic Cathedral in Etchmiadzin, outside Yerevan, on 24 JuneThe Pope used the term "genocide" for the first time last year 

Pope Francis has described the mass killing of Armenians under Ottoman Turkish rule in World War One as "genocide", repeating a phrase that prompted Turkish anger last year. 

He made the remarks during a visit to the Armenian capital, Yerevan, for commemorations of the massacre. 

Armenia and many historians say up to 1.5 million Armenian Christians were killed by Ottoman forces in 1915. 

Turkey has always disputed that figure and rejects using the term "genocide". 

It says the deaths were part of a civil conflict triggered by WW1. 

The row over characterising the killings has continued to sour relations between Armenia and Turkey, as well as drawing in other countries such as Germany, whose parliament recently declared the killings to be genocide. 

The Pope made the comments in an address to Armenia's President, Serzh Sargsyan, and the diplomatic corps, and appeared to have added the word "genocide" to his prepared text. 

"This tragedy, this genocide, has unfortunately marked the start of a sad series of great catastrophes of the last century," he said. 

There was no immediate reaction from Turkey, which last year recalled its envoy to the Vatican after the Pope referred to "genocide". 

The envoy was kept away for 10 months. 

Pope Francis denounces Armenian 'genocide' during visit to Yerevan
Pontiff ad-libs controversial word during speech to devotees, risking
repeat of diplomatic rift between Turkey and Vatican

Friday 24 June 2016 

Pope Francis denounced what he called the ideologically twisted and
planned “genocide” of Armenians by Ottoman-era Turks a century ago as
he arrived in Yerevan, Armenia, on Friday for a symbolic weekend visit
to mark the centenary of the massacre.

In the most carefully watched speech of his three-day trip, Francis
ad-libbed the politically charged word “genocide” to his prepared text
that had conspicuously left it out.

And rather than merely repeat what had said last year – that the
slaughter was “considered the first genocide of the 20th century” –
Francis declared it a genocide, setting the stage for another Turkish
protest after it withdrew its ambassador last year and accused the
pontiff of spreading lies.

“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,” he said.

“It’s so sad how, in this case and in the other two, the great
international powers looked the other way,” he added, in apparent
reference to the subsequent horrors of Nazism and Stalinism.

In the run-up to the visit, the Vatican had refrained from using the
term “genocide,” mindful of Turkish opposition to the political and
financial implications of the word given Armenian claims for

But Francis, never one to shy from speaking his mind, added the word
at the last minute in a speech at the presidential palace to President
Serzh Sargsyan and Armenian political and religious leaders. They gave
him a standing ovation.

“One cannot but believe in the triumph of justice when in 100 years …
the message of justice is being conveyed to mankind from the heart of
the Catholic world,” marvelled Sargsyn in his speech to the pope.

A small country but a big nation: how genocide shaped the Armenia of today

Many historians consider the massacres of an estimated 1.5 million
Armenians genocide. Turkey rejects the term, says the death figure is
inflated and that people died on both sides as the Ottoman empire
collapsed during the first world war.

In a largely Orthodox country where Catholics are a minority,
Armenians have been honoured to welcome a pope who has long championed
the Armenian cause from his time as an archbishop in Argentina and now
as leader of the 1.2-billion strong Catholic church. His 2015
declaration that the massacres were genocide sealed their affection
for him.

“I shook the pope’s hand but didn’t have the time to kiss it,”
42-year-old Yerevan resident Nazik Sargsyan said on Friday as Francis
arrived. “I’m sure God’s blessing has come down on me with that

Small groups of residents lined his motorcade route, and a gaggle of
schoolchildren wearing white T-shirts and yellow neckerchiefs – the
colours of the Vatican flag – greeted him at the airport with a banner
written in Italian that read: “Armenia welcomes Pope Francis.”

In his initial remarks in the ornate Apostolic church in Etchmiadzin,
Francis praised Armenia for becoming the first country to declare
Christianity the state religion in AD301 and for keeping alive the
“light of faith” even in its darkest times.

With the Apostolic patriarch Karekin II by his side, Francis urged all
Christians to unite to prevent religion from being exploited and
manipulated today, a reference to the Islamic extremist attacks on
Christians in the Middle East.

“It is vitally important that all those who declare their faith in God
join forces to isolate those who use religion to promote war,
oppression and violent persecution, exploiting and manipulating the
holy name of God,” he said.

The Vatican has long cheered the Armenian cause, holding up the poor
country of 3 million mostly Orthodox Christians as a bastion of faith
and martyrdom in a largely Muslim region.

 Francis embraces the Apostolic patriarch Karekin II. Photograph:
Osservatore Romano/EPA

Sargsyan, Karekin and a handful of other officials greeted Francis on
the tarmac at Yerevan airport in a low-key ceremony. A girls’ choir
serenaded and the pope, patriarch and president then walked behind a
goose-stepping military official along a red carpet into the VIP
lounge before heading to Echmiadzin, the seat of the Oriental Orthodox
church where Francis will stay as a guest of Karekin.

“Blessed is the hour when the feet of Pope Francis touched our soil!”
exclaimed local resident Simon Samsonya. “He won the love of the
Armenian people with his message at St Peter’s Cathedral on the eve of
the 100 years anniversary of the genocide.”

The pontiff will have another opportunity to pay respects to the
victims of the slaughter when he visits Armenia’s genocide memorial on

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