VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis says he hopes Turkey will open its border with Armenia. The Pope made the remark on Sunday during a 45-minute news conference on his flight to Rome after a three-day visit to Turkey, the Catholic News Service reports.
The Pope praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s 2013 statement in which he offered “condolences” to the descendants of the victims of the “1915 mass killings,” failing to call the Armenian Genocide by name in what many Armenians around the world saw as a cynical and meaningless gesture.
The Pope voiced hope that other gestures over the coming centennial year of the Armenian Genocide would bring the two nations closer, and he specifically voiced hope that Turkey would open its border with Armenia.
The Pope also said he told Erdogan that “it would be beautiful if all Islamic leaders — whether they be political leaders, religious leaders, academic leaders — would say clearly that they condemn [terrorism], because that will help the majority of Islamic people to say, ‘that’s true,’” and show non-Muslims that Islam is a religion of peace.
“I sincerely believe that you cannot say that all Muslims are terrorists just as you cannot say that all Christians are fundamentalists; every religion has these little groups,” the Pope said.
While in Turkey, Pope Francis visited the Surp Prgich (Holy Savior) Armenian hospital in Istanbul to see Armenian Patriarch Mesrob Mutafian.
“Before leaving for the airport to board his flight back to Rome at the end of his visit to Turkey, Pope Francis paid a visit to the Armenian Patriarch of Constaninople, Mesrob Mutafian, who is seriously ill at the San Salvatore Armenian hospital in Istanbul,” Vatican Radio reported.
The Pope urged for religious tolerance when speaking in Turkey during his three-day visit. He also called on Islamic state and religious leaders to condemn Islamic extremism.