Pope Uses "Genocide" to Describe 1915 Atrocity

In Joint Declaration with Apostolic Patriarch Karekin II

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YEREVAN, Armenia, SEPT. 27, 2001 (Zenit.org).- On the eve of John Paul II´s visit to Armenia, the international press wondered if he would use the word «genocide» to describe the mass killings carried out by the Ottoman Empire early last century.

Dispelling all doubts, on the last day of his stay, the Pope used the term in English in a joint declaration signed with Armenian Apostolic Patriarch Karekin II.

«The extermination of 1.5 million Armenian Christians, in what is generally referred to as the first genocide of the 20th century, and the subsequent annihilation of thousands under the former totalitarian regime, are tragedies that still live in the memory of the present-day generation,» the document states.

During the papal prayer at the Tzitzernakaberd Memorial on Wednesday, the Pontiff used the term «Metz Yeghérn,» which in Armenian means «great crime» or «great evil.» It is the word used by Armenians to refer to the 1915 genocide against their people.

Turkey has opposed the use of the term «genocide» to describe those events, and states that there were only 300,000 victims and that they died «in the course of deportations that took place in the framework of the First World War.»

Ankara has taken measures against all countries that label the Armenian massacre as a genocide, including against France and Italy, whose Parliaments recognized the genocide publicly. It is not anticipated that Turkey will do the same with the Vatican.

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