Pope’s ‘genocide’ claim angers Turkey | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Pope’s ‘genocide’ claim angers Turkey

Posted: Apr 12, 2015 at 5:55 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has stirred controversy by statements made at a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian massacres.

“In the past century, our human family has lived through three massive and unprecedented tragedies, the first, which is widely considered ‘the first genocide of the twentieth century,’ struck your own Armenian people,” he said, referencing a 2001 declaration by Pope John Paul II and the head of the Armenian church.

The government of Turkey has, however, reacted to the Pontiff’s choice of words, particularly his use of the term genocide, even though he was quoting from the declaration.

Turkey has responded by summoning the Vatican ambassador for a meeting at the Foreign Ministry, Turkish state broadcaster TRT reported.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, through his Twitter account, called the Pope’s use of ‘genocide’ “unacceptable” and “out of touch with both historical facts and legal basis.”

“Religious offices are not places through which hatred and animosity are fuelled by unfounded allegations,” the tweet read.

Armenian groups and many scholars say that Turks planned and carried out genocide, starting in 1915, when more than a million ethnic Armenians were massacred in the final years of the Ottoman Empire.

Turkey officially denies that a genocide took place, saying hundreds of thousands of Armenian Christians and Turkish Muslims died in inter-communal violence around the battlefields of World War I.

The Armenian government and influential Armenian Diaspora groups have urged countries around the world to formally label the 1915 events as genocide. Turkey has responded with pressure of its own against such moves.

Pope Francis, not new to controversy, said Sunday that, “Catholic and Orthodox Syrians, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Greeks” were also killed in the bloodshed a century ago.

He said Nazism and Stalinism were responsible for the other two “massive and unprecedented tragedies” of the past century.