The Vatican is strongly denying Turkish claims that Pope Francis has adopted a “mentality of the Crusades” by recognizing the Ottoman-era slaughter of Armenians as “genocide.”
The Vatican spokesman, the Fr. Federico Lombardi, said nothing in Francis’ texts or words during his Armenian trip showed any hostility to Turkey and in fact were infused with calls for Armenia and Turkey to build bridges of peace and reconciliation.
“The pope is not doing Crusades,” he said Sunday in response to a question by Public Radio of Armenia. “He has said no words against the Turkish people.”
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli called Francis’ comments “greatly unfortunate” and said they bore the hallmarks of the “mentality of the Crusades.”
“The Divine Liturgy celebrated this morning at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin was at the top of the ecumenical reality of the Pope’s visit,” teh Vatican Spokesman said.
“We have had several very important ecumenical moments from the beginning of the visit, but today’s liturgy was a sign of ecumenism in the most profound sense. We have experienced the richness of the Armenian liturgical tradition, which is very impressive,” he said.
To sum up the results of the Pope’s three-day visit, Fr. Lombardi said the ecumenical aspect was probably the most important element of the visit.
He stressed the importance of the Pope’s formulation at the end of his speech at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. “Now, Your Holiness, in the name of God, I ask you to bless me, to bless me and the Catholic Church, and to bless this our path towards full unity,” the Pope said.
The Vatican Spokesman stressed that during all meetings in Armenia and during yesterday’s Ecumenical Encounter at the Republic Square the Pope expressed his attention, his compassion to all problems in the history of the Armenian nation, and also a great admiration for the culture, the spiritual tradition.