Aram I Discusses 90th Anniversary of Genocide; WCC Calls for Genocide Recognition

In his report to the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches–which meets once a year–His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia–stated–"This year my church and people will commemorate the 90th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. During the First World War in 1915–one-and-a-half million Armenia’s were massacred by the Ottoman-Turkish government according to a well-devised and systematically executed plan. Although my generation did not directly experience the tragic past–the Armenian Genocide has had a strong impact on our spiritual and intellectual formation. The past haunts the victims; we cannot free ourselves from the past unless that past is duly recognized."

The Cathlicos’s reference was made in the context of his analysis of the question of forgiveness and reconciliation. He said: "The acceptance of truth is the sine qua non condition for forgiveness. The past must be confronted boldly and be challenged responsibly. Neglecting the past with its wounds will not help to build a new future. When the memories are not healed–they hold us hostage to the past; when they are healed–through confession and forgiveness–they empower us to rebuild relationships–promote mutual trust and acceptance–and engage in a process of transformation. Unhealed memories cause violence–hate and fragmentation. Forgiveness–as a response to confession–is a determining factor in the healing and reconciliation process. Through forgiveness–we accept each other in truth and justice. Forgiveness is costly; only confession must lead to forgiveness–which is a pre-condition for real healing and reconciliation."

During its meeting–the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches drafted a statement calling for the recognition of the genocide against the Armenian people. "Sunday April 24–2005 will be the 90 years Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide–the tragic massacre of one-and-a-half million Armenia’s in Turkey and the deportation of another million from their homeland.

"The World Council of Churches has on different occasions addressed the need for public recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the necessity of Turkey to deal with this dark part of its history," read the statement. "The importance of Turkey evaluating its history has recently also been addressed by the Conference of European Churches relating to Turkey’s relation to the European Union.

"From the Christian perspective–the path towards justice and reconciliation requires the recognition of the crime committed as a sine qua non condition for the healing of memories and the possibility of forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting but to look back with the intention to restore justice–the respect for Human Rights and relationships between perpetrators and victims.

"The Public Committee recommen’s to the General Secretary and the staff–to propose to all member churches to make Sunday April 24 a day of memorial of the Armenian Genocide and to consider further appropriate actions related to the 90 years Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide."

In a separate statement concerning the International Criminal Court–the Central Committee noted: "Human History is filled with examples of horrendous cruelties–aggressions and inhumanities. In just 20th Century there are four recognized genocides–90 years ago the Armenian genocide–60 years ago the Holocaust–nearly 30 years ago the Khmer Rouge and the most recent genocide in Rwanda–a little more than 10 years ago. There were very different ways of addressing these horrific crimes: there was no consequence for the Armenian genocide–the victors justice in the Nuremberg trail for the Nazi war criminals–a failed local response with UN support to the Khmer Rouge and the ad-hoc International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda."

164 voting members–together with over 100 advisors–consultants–and representatives of the Vatican and various international organizations–are participating in this year’s meeting in Geneva. His Holiness Aram I has served as the moderator of the Central Committee since 1991.


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