* Pontiff’s remarks increase pressure on Turkey to abandon denial campaign.
WASHINGTON–Pope John Paul II’s condemnation of the Armenian Genocide has been welcomed by the Armenian National Committee of America as an important step toward bringing an end to Turkey’s international campaign to deny the first genocide of the 20th century.
The Pope addressed the Armenian Genocide in a joint statement with Catholicos Karekin II–spiritual leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church–following a November 9th meeting in the Vatican between the two church leaders. Agence France Presse (Nov. 10–2000) reported the relevant portion of their statement as follows:
"The Armenian Genocide has been a prelude to the horrors which followed: the two world wars–innumerable regional conflicts and deliberately organized campaigns of extermination that have ended the lives of millions of believers."
"As Armenian Americans–we welcome the Pope’s forceful condemnation of the Armenian Genocide as a vital step toward ending our own government’s ongoing complicity in the Turkish government’s denial of this crime against all humanity," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
"This principled stand reflects the Pope’s standing as a singularly powerful voice for human rights–and reinforces our collective resolve to strengthen the traditional spiritual bonds and enduring friendship between the Armenian people and Catholics in the United States–the Americas–Europe–and throughout the world."
Catholicos Karekin II–who was in the Vatican on a four-day visit to promote closer relations between the Armenian Church and Catholic churches–invited the Pope to Armenia next year for the 1,700th anniversary of the official declaration of Armenian Christianity. The Pope returned to Karekin II relics of Saint Gregory the Illuminator–the founder of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The Associated Press (Nov. 9–2000) reported that following their meeting–the Pope noted that they had "recalled in a special way the immense suffering of the Armenian people."