Your Holiness and Beloved Brother in Christ,
Through the merciful will of God, We visit Rome once again. We come with the President of the Republic of Armenia, Mr. Serzh Sargisyan; with Our spiritual brother, Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia; and with the Bishops of the Armenian Church and the representatives of the Armenian faithful worldwide. With the joy of the Holy Resurrection and love of Christ, We bring Our fraternal greetings and best wishes to Your Holiness, and bring Our prayerful participation in the Holy Mass celebrated by Your Holiness in the Basilica of Saint Peter, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
Our people who gave birth to Saint Gregory of Narek, have throughout history endured countless horrors and faced calamities for their Christian faith and national identity. One century ago, the brutal crime of genocide was committed against our people in Ottoman Turkey. With a deliberate plan, with horrific atrocities, one and a half million Armenians were slaughtered. Our ancient people were uprooted from their cherished cradle of life Â– their historic homeland Â– and scattered over different countries. Our centuries-old Christian legacy heritage was ruined, obliterated, and seized.
This is indeed a unique moment in our modern history; a moment marked by ecumenical and panÂ–Armenian symbolism. I would like to highlight three significant aspects of this historical moment.
First, we are grateful for Your HolinessÂ’ initiative in celebrating a holy mass in the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican in commemoration of the oneÂ–andÂ–aÂ–half million martyrs of the Armenian Genocide. As St. Paul says, Â“To die in Christ is to liveÂ” (Phil. 1:21). The Armenian martyrs belong to the Â“cloud of witnesses surrounding usÂ” (Hebr. 12:1). With their faith, hope and vision, they have sustained and guided the life of our people during the past 100 years. We remember the words of the 2nd century church father Tertullian, Â“The blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.Â” The canonization of the martyrs by the Armenian Church will fortify our peopleÂ’s faithfulness to their sacred legacy.
Second, today, Your Holiness has proclaimed Saint Gregory of Narek a doctor of the Church (Doctor Ecclesiae). We express our spiritual joy for this decision of the Catholic Church. In fact, Saint Gregory of Narek is one of the great mystics of world Christendom. He was an outstanding theologian, whose theology is not an intellectual reflection on God, but a dialogue with God. With his BOOK OF LAMENTATIONS, which is a human cry for meaning and salvation, St Gregory of Narek remains our eternal contemporary.
And finally in this spiritual context, by remembering and commemorating the Armenian martyrs, we also reclaim justice. Justice is a gift of God; violation of justice is a sin against God. For one hundred years, the Armenian people have remained faithful to the legacy of its martyrs by demanding the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and reparation. This commitment for justice will continue with renewed faith and resolve.
The Vatican has never been indifferent to the Armenian Genocide. Pope Benedict XV wrote a strongly worded letter to the Sultan of Turkey protesting the Â“massive crimeÂ” perpetrated against Armenians. In the following years, the Holy See extended its social and humanitarian aid to the Armenian people. In fact, the newly released historical documents confirm the Holy SeeÂ’s firm stand with the Armenian peopleÂ’s claim for justice. Our people value the moral support of the Holy See.
With these thoughts in mind and hope in heart, we express our profound gratitude for the love and fellowship that Your Holiness has always shown towards our church and people. We pray that Almighty God enrich your ministry with continued achievements at the service of the ChurchÂ’s mission and unity.