Pope plans to attend 2015 ceremony in Armenia amid Ankara’s genocide protest

Leader of the world’s Roman Catholics Pope Francis has stated that he wants to make a visit to the Armenian capital, Yerevan, to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1915 events, despite criticisms from Turkey after the pope had earlier labeled the events as “genocide” last week, Today’s Zaman reports.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry released a statement on Saturday reacting to the statement by the Pope calling the mass killing of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire the “first genocide of the 20th century.”

“What is required from the papacy is to contribute to world peace under the responsibility of the spiritual post it assumes instead of picking out hostilities from history,” the statement said, expressing disappointment over the “one-sided” comments by the pope about an event in the past.

The statement also mentioned that Antonio Lucibello, the Vatican ambassador in Ankara, had been summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Friday during which the Turkish side expressed its displeasure over the statement, calling the pope’s remarks last week “unacceptable.” “The importance of the Vatican avoiding taking steps that could irreparably affect our bilateral relations was emphasized,” the statement also said, mentioning the foreign ministry’s message to Lucibello.

“The first genocide of the 20th century was that of the Armenians,” Pope Francis was quoted as saying during his meeting with Nerses Bedros XIX, Catholicos Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenian Catholics, who visited him at Vatican on June 3.

Meanwhile, during an official opening ceremony of the Armenian embassy in the Vatican last week, Pope Francis also stated that he wants to hold a religious ceremony in Yerevan during the 2015 ceremony, which would mark the 100th anniversary of the genocide, according to Today’s Zaman.

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