Opening address of Pope Francis to the Armenian Rite faithful during the Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday
“On a number of occasions I have spoken of our time as a time of war, a third
world war which is being fought piecemeal, one in which we daily witness savage
crimes, brutal massacres and senseless destruction. Sadly, today too we hear
the muffled and forgotten cry of so many of our defenceless brothers and
sisters who, on account of their faith in Christ or their ethnic origin, are
publicly and ruthlessly put to death – decapitated, crucified, burned alive –
or forced to leave their homeland.
Today too we are experiencing a sort of genocide created by general and
collective indifference, by the complicit silence of Cain, who cries out: “What
does it matter to me? Am I my brother’s keeper?” (cf. Gen 4:9; Homily in
Redipuglia , 13 September 2014).
In the past century our human family has lived through three massive and
unprecedented tragedies. The first, which is widely considered “the first
genocide of the twentieth century” (JOHN PAUL II and KAREKIN II, Common
Declaration , Etchmiadzin, 27 September 2001), struck your own Armenian people,
the first Christian nation, as well as Catholic and Orthodox Syrians,
Assyrians, Chaldeans and Greeks. Bishops and priests, religious, women and men,
the elderly and even defenceless children and the infirm were murdered. The
remaining two were perpetrated by Nazism and Stalinism. And more recently there
have been other mass killings, like those in Cambodia, Rwanda, Burundi and
Bosnia. It seems that humanity is incapable of putting a halt to the shedding
of innocent blood. It seems that the enthusiasm generated at the end of the
Second World War has dissipated and is now disappearing. It seems that the
human family has refused to learn from its mistakes caused by the law of
terror, so that today too there are those who attempt to eliminate others with
the help of a few and with the complicit silence of others who simply stand by.
We have not yet learned that “war is madness”, “senseless slaughter” (cf.
Homily in Redipuglia , 13 September 2014).
Dear Armenian Christians, today, with hearts filled with pain but at the same
time with great hope in the risen Lord, we recall the centenary of that tragic
event, that immense and senseless slaughter whose cruelty your forebears had to
endure. It is necessary, and indeed a duty, to honour their memory, for
whenever memory fades, it means that evil allows wounds to fester. Concealing
or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it!
I greet you with affection and I thank you for your witness.
With gratitude for his presence, I greet Mr Serž Sargsyan, the President of the
Republic of Armenia.
My cordial greeting goes also to my brother Patriarchs and Bishops: His
Holiness Kerekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; His
Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, His Beatitude Nerses
Bedros XIX, Patriarch of Cilicia of Armenian Catholics; and Catholicosates of
the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Patriarchate of the Armenian Catholic
In the firm certainty that evil never comes from God, who is infinitely good,
and standing firm in faith, let us profess that cruelty may never be considered
God’s work and, what is more, can find absolutely no justification in his Holy
Name. Let us continue this celebration by fixing our gaze on Jesus Christ,
risen from the dead, victor over death and evil!
[00575-EN.01] [Original text: Italian]