Pope to Armenian Patriarch: Martyrs of Your Country Mustn't Be Forgotten

Says Their Bloodshed Contributes to Growth and Unity of the Church

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

The number of disciples who have shed blood for Christ in the tragic events of the last century has increased greatly, and the sons of the Armenian nation «have a place of honour in this martyrology,» Pope Francis has said.

Greeting His Holiness Karekin II, supreme patriarch and catholicos of all Armenians, today at the Vatican, the Holy Father recalled how Armenia’s martyrs in recent decades have contributed to the Church’s unity.

He began by highlighting how the links between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Church of Rome have been consolidated during recent years thanks to events such as John Paul II’s trip to Armenia in 2001 and the presence of the Patriarch in the Vatican on various occasions, such as the official visit to Benedict XVI in 2008 and the beginning of Pope Francis’ ministry as bishop of Rome in 2013.

The mystery of the Cross, Francis said to the patriarch, “so dear to the memory of your people, represented in the splendid stone crosses that adorn every corner of your land, has been lived by countless sons of yours, directly participating in the chalice of the Passion.” He stressed that “their witness, both tragic and lofty, must not be forgotten.”

“The suffering of Christians during recent decades has also made a unique and inestimable contribution to the cause of unity between Christ’s disciples,” noted the Pontiff. “As in the ancient Church the blood of martyrs became the seed of new Christians, in our days too the blood of many Christians has become the seed of unity.”

“The ecumenism of suffering and martyrdom is a powerful reminder to walk the path of reconciliation between the Churches, decisively and trustfully surrendering ourselves to the action of the Spirit,” he Pope continued. “Let us feel the duty of following this path of fraternity also for the debt of gratitude we have towards the suffering of so many of our brothers, which has become salvific by being united with the passion of Christ.”

In this respect, the Pope thanked Karekin II for his effective support for ecumenical dialogue, and in particular the work of the joint commission for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the oriental Orthodox Churches, and for the significant theological contribution to the Commission offered by the representatives of the Catholicate of All Armenians.

Turning to the patriarch’s people, Francis said: “In the person of Your Holiness I extend my respectful and affectionate thoughts to the members of the family of the catholicate of all Armenians throughout the world. It is a special grace,» he said, «for us to be able to meet in this house, close to the tomb of the Apostle Peter, and to share a moment of fraternity and prayer.” 

The Pontiff recalled another celebration in which the patriarch took part: the Commemoration of the Witnesses of faith in the twentieth century, which took place within the context of the Great Jubilee of 2000.

“Let us pray for each other,”  said the Pope. “May the Holy Spirit enlighten us and guide us towards the longed-for day in which we may share in the Eucharist. And may the all holy Mother of God intercede for the Armenian population, now and for ever.”

Following the meeting, Pope Francis and Patriarch Karekin prayed together in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel. (D.C.L.)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation