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Francis unlikely to use the word 'genocide' on visit to Armenia

21 June 2016 | by Christopher Lamb , Daniele Palmer

Emphasis will be on peace when Pope visits memorial to up to 1.5m Armenian victims at hand of Young Turks movement

Pope Francis will visit a memorial to the Armenians slaughtered by the Ottoman empire a century ago although is unlikely to describe the event as a “genocide” during his trip to the country this weekend. 

Holy See spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi told journalists that the Pope’s visit to Armenia will stress peace and that Francis will release a flock of doves at the Armenian/Turkish border after visiting the genocide memorial in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.

The memorial is to remember the murder of up to 1.5m Armenians by the Ottoman Turks between 2015-16. 

But rather than using the word “genocide” - which is highly controversial in neighbouring Turkey - Fr Lombardi said the Holy See preferred to use the Armenian expression of “Medz Yeghern” (great catastrophe) to describe the massacre. 

In April 2015 the Pope describe the mass killings of Armenians a century before as genocide - but this angered Turkey leading the country to recall its Vatican ambassador (he has since returned).  

One Vatican source told The Tablet that given that Francis has used the term once, it was not necessary for him to keep using it. 

When he was in Argentina the Pope was close to an Armenian evangelical pastor, whose journalist daughter, Evangelina Himitian, wrote a biography of him. During his trip to Armenia the Pope will celebrate liturgies with both the Armenian Apostolic Church - which split off following the Council of Chalcedon 451 - and Armenian Catholics. 

In 2001 John Paul II visited Armenia and signed a document describing the massacres as genocide.  



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