Pope Francis urges recognition of Armenian genocide

The massacres of Armenians by Turks during World War I were as barbaric and gruesome as any mass murders in human history. But even today, a century later, the Turkish government bristles at the word “genocide” and engages in a campaign of denial, disregarding the scholars who consider those hideous events to be the first modern genocide.

Turkey is a Muslim country.  The Armenians were Christians.  For decades preceding the genocide, Turks considered Armenians infidels and treated them abusively. In World War I, the Turks allied with Germany and fought against a coalition of Christian nations, and lost. During the war, Turkish policy toward its Armenian minority degenerated from oppression to extermination, and Armenian survivors scattered in Diasporas across the globe including in the United States.

For decades, realpolitik has discouraged the U.S. government from acknowledging the Armenian genocide. Military bases in Turkey adjacent to Russia’s border were an invaluable Cold War asset, and remain so today, and our government feels it can’t afford to alienate the Turkish government over a symbolic matter that doesn’t affect most Americans.

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian holocaust’s beginning on April 15, 1915.  At a Vatican Mass today, Pope Francis noted the occasion by referring to the Armenian massacres as ” ‘the first genocide of the 20th century’ and urging the international community to recognize it as such, a politically explosive declaration,” CBS News reported, to which Turkey is reacting with anger.

But the Pope, “who has close ties to the Armenian community from his days in Argentina, defended his pronouncement by saying it was his duty to honor the memory of the innocent men, women, children, priests and bishops who were ‘senselessly’ murdered by Ottoman Turks. ‘Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it,’ he said …. Francis called on all heads of state and international organizations to recognize the truth of what transpired and oppose such crimes ‘without ceding to ambiguity or compromise.'”

Morgenthau336The Armenian genocide is a historical fact that won’t go away, no matter how persistently the descendants of its perpetrators try to sweep it under the rug. It’s also a festering political issue that exacerbates already-strained Muslim-Christian relations. But no matter how delicate a matter it may be, it’s always a mistake and morally wrong to turn away from evil and refuse to call it by its right name.



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