On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the massacre of Armenians during the rule of the Ottoman Empire, Pope Francis this week used the word “genocide” to describe the killings. The Pope’s statement is expected to anger Turkey, where the official line contends that there were hundreds of thousands of victims in the area at the time as a result of World War I, and that the victims were not exclusively Armenians.
Pope Francis broke no new ground with his “genocide” designation of the mass killings of Armenians. The current Pope was quoting a 2001 declaration co-authored by Pope John Paul II which referred to Armenian massacre as the “first genocide of the 20th century.” Pope Francis slotted the Armenian tragedy in with Nazism and Stalinism as one of the three “massive and unprecedented tragedies” that “our human family lived through” in the previous century. The Turkish government has not yet responded to the Pope’s remarks.