(AsiaNews) - Armenian Orthodox Patriarch Karekin II issued a solemn encyclical
letter to launch a year of official events to remember the Armenian Genocide
of 1.5 million Armenians took place in the twilight years of the Ottoman
Empire, first under Sultan Abdul Hamid II, then under the 'Young Turks' government,
and finally under Kemal Ataturk, the father of the modern Turkish Republic.
targeted because they were Christian, educated and middle-class. In 1915, their
schools, churches, and organisations were especially singled out and forced to
shut down. That year, they were hunted down, killed, raped, forced to endure all
kinds of acts of violence and humiliation. This was followed by deportations
into the desert, mass burials, and the torching of trains carrying fleeing
refugees. Some survivors managed to reach today's Armenia (at the time under Russian
imperial, then Soviet rule), Syria and Lebanon.
Conference of 1920 recognised the Armenian Genocide. Since then, at least 20
countries have recognised it, except Turkey, which continues to claim that the
massacres were the consequence of the fight against pro-independence groups.
itself, writers and historians who have published books on the genocide have
been prosecuted. Only last year, then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed
his condolences for the massacre to the descendants of Armenians.
letter, Patriarch Karekin II announces that he will lead a liturgy on 23 April
23 2015 to proclaim saints all the victims of the genocide, killed "for faith
and for Homeland" and that he will make 24 April a Day of Remembrance for
all the "holy martyrs of genocide".
unconfirmed reports, Pope Francis Pope will also celebrate a Mass in St Peter's
Square on 12 April 2015 in memory of the Armenian genocide.
text of patriarch's encyclical letter follows below.
"The path of the righteous is as the dawning light that shines brighter
and brighter unto the perfect day."
centennial of the Armenian Genocide is before us and our souls resound with a
powerful call for justice and truth that will not be silenced.
Each day of
2015 is a day of remembrance and devotion for our people, a spiritual journey
to the memorials of our martyrs in the Homeland and the Diaspora, before which
we humbly kneel in prayer with offerings of incense for the souls of our
innocent victims, who abide in unmarked graves, having accepted death rather than
rejecting their faith and nation. Indeed, "the path of the righteous is as the
dawning light that shines brighter and brighter unto the perfect day."
In 1915, and
for years following, Ottoman Turkey committed genocide against our people. In
Western Armenia - on our native soil - in the Armenian homeland and in Armenian
communities throughout Turkey, one and one half million sons and daughters of
our nation were subjected to slaughter, famine and disease, as they were
deported and forced to march to their deaths. Centuries of honest
accomplishments and creativity were swiftly plundered. Thousands of monasteries
and churches were desecrated and destroyed. National institutions and schools
were razed and ruined. Our spiritual and cultural treasures were uprooted and
obliterated. Western Armenia, where for millennia - from the time of Noah - our
people lived, created and built their history and culture, had been wrested
from its native population.
ago - when the fragments of the Armenian nation, having lost their patrimony,
were scattered all over the world, and while Eastern Armenia was waging a
life-and-death struggle for survival against Turkish invaders - it was hard to
believe in the future of the Armenian people. Nevertheless a new dawn came. By
the grace of the Lord, our people rose up from death. On a small, salvaged part
of the homeland, our people re-established statehood, recreated a country out
of the ruins and vestiges, and built a "homeland of light and hope," of
science, education and culture. The Armenians exiled throughout the world built
homes and hearths, and flourished in countries near and far, carrying on their
traditions and spiritual life. Wherever the children of our nation lived, they
achieved success, earned respect and trust, and gained recognition for their
conscientious work and their contributions to science, the arts and the common
welfare. This is the history of our people for the last century - a history of adversity
and resurrection. Today, hardships notwithstanding, our nation strengthens its
independent statehood, creates its new life of freedom, and looks hopefully to
the future, embracing national reawakening, optimism and faith.
you, O Lord, boundless glory, "Like a shield you protect us with your good favour."
(Psalms 5:12). By placing our hope in You, O Lord, our people were enlightened
and strengthened. Your light kindled the ingenuity of our spirit. Your might
propelled us to our victories. We created though others destroyed our
creations. We continued to live though others wanted us dead. You, O Lord,
willed that our people - condemned to death by a genocidal plan - should live
and rise again, so that we might raise this just cause before the conscience of
humanity and the law of nations, to free the world of the callous indifference
of Pilate and the criminal denial of Turkey.
For the sake
of justice - until the triumph of our cause, we will continue our struggle
without retreat - Church, Nation and State together. The blood of our innocent
martyrs and the suffering of our people cry out for justice. Our destroyed
shrines, the violation of our national rights, the falsification and distortion
of our history all cry out for justice. Having survived genocide, our people
believed and continue to believe that the multitude of righteous countries,
national and civic organizations, and individuals who have recognized and
condemned the Armenian Genocide will be joined by others who believe that the affirmation
of truth and justice are the prerequisite and guarantor of a peaceful world
free of enmity and violence.
In memory of
our one and a half million martyrs of the Genocide, we express our gratitude to
the nations, organizations and individuals who have had the courage and
conviction to recognize and condemn the Armenian Genocide. We express gratitude
to those countries and kind peoples who accepted the children of our nation as
brothers and sisters. These examples of justice and humanitarianism are
luminous pages in the history of mankind. They shall always be remembered and
appreciated for generations, and benefit the peaceful, secure and congenial
life of the world.
of the Armenians, it is spiritually consoling to announce to our people that on
April 23, 2015, during the Divine Liturgy, our Holy Church will offer a special
service canonizing its sons and daughters who accepted martyrdom as saints "for
faith and for Homeland", and will proclaim April 24 as the day of remembrance
for the Holy Martyrs of the Genocide.
people, graced from on high - a nation martyred; a nation resurrected - live
boldly, advance surely, with your gaze toward Ark-bearing Ararat, and with an
unwavering heart, keep your hope great. The Lord's encouragement and message
are addressed to you: "Though you are not mighty, you were faithful to my word
and you did not betray my name... Hold fast what you have so that no one will
take away your crown of victory." (Revelations 3:8-11). Thus, let us stay on
course before God, righteous and true, on the steadfast paths of faith, which
like the morning light dispels the darkness and makes the horizons of hope
visible. Our way is with God; and the life of faith is our victory. Let us make
fruitful the centennial anniversary by valuing our peoples' 100-year-long path
of travails and rebirth, so that our children, recognizing the heroic will of
their grandparents and parents to live and create, and their commissions
undertaken for the sake of nation and homeland, create the bright day of our
native land and our people dispersed throughout the world. Let us transform the
remembrance of our martyrs into energy and strength in our spiritual and
national life, and before God and all people, illuminate the path by our
righteous course to guide our way toward the realization of justice and our
nation's Christ-built and cherished spiritual centre, before the Mother See of
Holy Etchmiadzin's Holy Altar of Descent of the Only Begotten, let us pray to
God for peace, safety and the welfare of our Homeland, our beloved people
throughout the world, and especially, for everlasting light and peace for the
innocent souls of the holy martyrs of genocide. May love and brotherhood,
justice and truth reign over humankind, and may the ways of the righteous
radiate, guide and spread the light until the dawn of a new day brings peace
and happiness to all the world.
grace, love and peace of our Lord Jesus the Christ be with you and with us all.