Pope Francis is famous for making controversial statements. However, he may have taken it to the next level during his visit to Armenia. As it is custom for the Holy Man, he gave a long touching speech, a rather touchy one. He addressed the events involving the Ottoman Empire during the First World War.

Moreover, his speech was full of Armenian references such as “the great evil” among other, and finally, he called the events the “Armenian Genocide” which set off all the geopolitical alarms around the world.

Pope Francis, center, is greeted by the head of Armenia’s Orthodox Church Karekin II, right, during an Armenian-Rite Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, April 12, 2015. CruxNow

At the beginning of the World War I, the Ottoman Empire was struggling with the Russian army on many fronts. Some of the officials claimed that the enemy had filtered the empire, they were mixed among the citizens. The raising conflict presented a rare opportunity to some Armenians; there was a separatist group that wanted “their” lands back and supported the Russian advance, but this was just a little faction. However, there was a lot of tension after the famous battle of Sarikamish, and the authorities reported a lot of riots in the country in some regions populated by the Armenians. The Ottoman officers seized the opportunity and started rolling a lot of propaganda saying that the minority was aligned with the enemy, and they planned to launch a surprise attack killing all the officers in Istanbul.

The move succeeded and what first started as the arrest and deportation of intellectuals and community leaders soon expanded to every Armenian citizen in every region of the Ottoman Empire. Forward from this point, the tale becomes horrific as the “deportation” meant throwing people out of the country into the desserts. They were deprived of water and food, and there are accounts of Ottoman military man frequently robbing and raping women and children. Men had it worse, they were incarcerated, tortured and killed. The Ottoman Empire started a systematic eradication of the Armenians in their country; mass burnings, drownings, and poison attacks were among the most used execution methods. Even though most of the registers were destroyed, historians have been able to patch up pieces of what happened, and the first time someone referred to it as a “genocide” was in 1943. 

In modern Turkey, they have a great respect for their ancestors

The Ottoman Empire is no more, and Turkey seats in the lands that it occupied. However, the leaders of the modern country are very tight to their traditions. In a similar manner as some modern Nazis, they claimed that what happened during the deportation cannot be called “genocide”, even though, local and foreign historians, organizations and countries have acknowledged the term as valid, and urged Turkey to apologize to the Armenian people for what happen during and after World War I.

But they think otherwise, and in fact, every time a public figure has spoken about the events calling them “genocide” or “massacre” they have used a wide variety of means to boycott them. For instance, in 1973, Turkey recalled its ambassador in France to protest a monument placed in Marseilles in honor to the genocide victims, and the Turkish leaders have used their influence to keep the word off of documentaries about the Ottoman Empire. Some even say they have used terrorist threats. Instead, they refer to the events as the “deportations”, and often reduce the actual numbers of fatal victims.

So far, no Turkish leader has pronounced about the Pope’s speech.

Source: Armen Press