Pope Francis‘ remarks on the Armenian Genocide has sparked a diplomatic row, prompting Turkey’s angered government to recall its ambassador to the Vatican.
His Holiness said during his greetings to Armenian pilgrims during the commemoration of the 100 years since the massacres that:
“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. struck your own Armenian people, the first Christian nation, as well as Catholic and Orthodox Syrians, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Greeks.”
He cited a Common Declaration signed by John Paul II and Armenian patriarch Karekin II in 2001, in which the deaths were defined as “genocide”.
“Bishops and priests, religious, women and men, the elderly and even defenceless children and the infirm were murdered,’’ he said.
Turkey denies that the killings by the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1917 amounted to genocide and asserts that international courts did not recognise them as such.
Turkish authorities in Ankara summoned the Vatican’s ambassador to Turkey, Archbishop Antonio Lucibello, to convey their “grave disappointment and sadness” before recalling their own ambassador from the Holy See.
Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, commented on Twitter that “it is not possible to accept the Pope’s statement, which is far from any legal or historical reality.’’