Ankara Has Responded to Pope: “Crusader Mentality “
The head of the Roman Catholic Church, in a speech on Friday on his arrival in Armenia, described the massacre of Armenians as genocide, “made possible by twisted racial, ideological or religious aims that darkened the minds of the tormentors.”
His use of the controversial label was a diversion from the original text of his speech but was welcomed by Armenians who have great love for the pontiff.
“One cannot but believe in the triumph of justice,” said Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, thanking the pontiff for his “message of justice.”
Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Nurettin Çanikli, responded on Saturday, calling it “unfortunate.”
“It is unfortunately possible to see all the reflections and traces of Crusader mentality in the actions of the papacy and the pope,” he said to reporters in Giresun on Turkey’s Black Sea coast.
Turkey accepts that many Armenians were killed during the First World War but vehemently denies that it was genocide.
Last year, on the occasion of the centenary of the genocide, Pope Francis angered Turkey again when he said that the
A Syrian refugee who attended the memorial said the pope had given her strength. “A blessing has come down on the land of Mount Ararat,” said Andzhela Adzhemyan, referring to the mountain that exists across Ankara’s border with Turkey and is believed to be where Noah’s ark came to rest after the flood. “He has given us the strength and confidence to keep our Christian faith no matter what.”
Speaking on Saturday, the pontiff said that the killing of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire must never be forgotten or minimized by the world but urged Armenians to find peace and reconciliation with Turkey.
“Memory, infused with love, becomes capable of setting out on new and unexpected paths, where designs of hatred become projects of reconciliation, where hope arises for a better future for everyone,” he said at a prayer service in Yerevan’s Republic Square.