From June 24-26th, Pope Francis will visit the land where tradition says that Noah’s Ark stopped after the Flood, at the foot of Mount Ararat.
Armenia is a country of rich and ancient history, full of joys and sorrows like the genocide of 1915. The Pope defined it as the first genocide of the twentieth century. During his trip, he is expected to honor the Yerevan memorial, on behalf the 1.5 million victims who perished as a result of hatred.
“The Armenian nation, the entire Armenian people is preparing to welcome the Pope on this special occasion and show their gratitude for having taken into account and commemorate, as he did the centennial of the Armenian genocide, ” Monsignor Boutros Marayati, Armenian Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo (Syria), said in an interview with Rome Reports TV.
In April last year, Pope Francis presided over a mass in St. Peter’s to honor the victims of genocide to mark the centenary. His words infuriated Turkey and even Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who filed a complaint. But for Boutros Marayati, the Pope’s next trip should not be looked at in the light of any political interest.
“The Holy Father will come to Armenia as a pilgrim, as a pastor, as a promoter of unity because he will visit an ancient Apostolic Church. He will also come as an apostle of peace because he will pray for Armenia to be in a place of peace with its neighbors,” the Archbishop said.
Besides the tension with Turkey, the situation on the border of Armenia with Azerbaijan remains committed to the territorial dispute of Nagorno-Karabakh, as it is a site of reoccurring conflict, especially in the last few weeks.
Referring to the recent escalation of tensions at the Nagorno Karabakh line of contact and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, Monsignor Boutros Marayati said: “We need to do a reading of peace, openness, a reading that says that everyone should live together. The problem of Nagorno-Karabakh has to do with Azerbaijan, which is a problem because we still don’ know how the Pope is going to face this. It is a very, very delicate problem.”
Rome Reports reminds that Armenia was the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion in 301 AD, even before the Roman Empire with the Edict of Milan in 313 at the hand of Emperor Constantine.