Pope Francis to visit genocide memorial in Armenia

(The Guardian) Pope Francis is expected to avoid using the word “genocide” when he visits a memorial to the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians this weekend.

His notable change of tone from a statement last year that the wholesale killing of Armenian Christians between 1915 and 1923 was the “first genocide of the 20th century” is aimed at avoiding a repeat of the ensuing diplomatic rift between Turkey and the Vatican.

The pontiff’s three-day visit to Armenia, which begins on Friday, includes prayers at Tsitsernakaberd, widely known as the genocide memorial and museum, in the capital, Yerevan.

The official programme for the trip, released this week by the Vatican, refers to Tsitsernakaberd as the “memorial of the massacres”. The pope’s spokesperson said the Armenian phrase Medz Yeghern, which translates as the “great evil” or the “great catastrophe”, was preferred to genocide.

“Why is there an obsession to use the word ‘genocide’ and ask about it in all the questions?” Federico Lombardi asked journalists at a briefing on the trip this week.

“We know what happened. None of us is denying that there were horrible massacres. We recognise this. We are going to the memorial precisely to remember this but we don’t want this to become a trap of political and ideological discussions,” he said. [More]


The Guardian