Pope’s remarks on mass killings of Armenians could damage ties with Vatican: Foreign Ministry
Pope Francis arrives to lead a special audience with students of Jesuit schools in Paul VI hall at the Vatican June 7. REUTERS photoThe Turkish Foreign Ministry has reacted in a written statement June 8 to Pope Francis’ remarks describing the mass killings of Armenians during World War I as “the first genocide of the 20th century,” warning that his stance could damage ties between the two countries.
“What is expected from the Papacy, under the responsibility of its spiritual office, is to contribute to world peace instead of raising animosity over historical events,” the statement read. “The Vatican’s ambassador was called on June 7, 2013, to the Foreign Ministry and was told that Pope Francis’ remarks were unacceptable.”
“We have emphasized that Vatican should avoid making steps that could have irreparable consequences on our ties,” the statement also said.
Pope Francis described the mass killings of Armenians during World War I as “the first genocide of the 20th century” during a meeting with a delegation led by Patriarch of Cilicia of Armenian Catholics on June 3.
The pope met with members of the delegation and when one of them said that she was a descendant of genocide victims, he replied, “The first genocide of the 20th century was that of the Armenians,” reiterating his earlier recognition of the mass killings as the “Armenian Genocide” while he was the head of the Catholic Church in Buenos Aires as a cardinal.
In 2006, during events marking the 91st anniversary of the killings in Buenos Aires, he urged Turkey to recognize “the genocide” as the “gravest crime of Ottoman Turkey against the Armenian people and all of humanity.”