Pope Francis, visiting the nation of Armenia this weekend, again described the slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Empire forces during World War I as a genocide and prayed that such a tragedy never happen again.
The Pope’s remark, using the term “genocide,” came Friday during an address at the presidential palace in Yerevan, the capital, at the start of his three-day trip to the country.
Turkey is vehemently opposed to using that term to describe the Armenian deaths – arguing that it was a war and there were losses on both sides.
Pope Francis’ reference to the Armenian mass killing as “genocide” is a “political statement” that reflects a crusader mentality, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli said, according to state broadcaster TRT.
He said the Pope’s comment “is not objective” and it does not reflect reality.
“We know this, the world knows this, the Armenians know this,” Canikli said.
Last year, a similar remark by the Pope was met with anger from Ankara.
On Saturday, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Gyumri, visited the Armenian Genocide memorial complex at Tsitsernakaberd and delivered an ecumenical prayer for peace.
According to a Vatican press release, he called the genocide the “first of the deplorable series of catastrophes of the past century, made possible by twisted racial, ideological or religious aims that darkened the minds of the tormentors even to the point of planning the annihilation of entire peoples.”
“Having seen the pernicious effects to which hatred, prejudice and the untrammeled desire for dominion led in the last century, I express my lively hope that humanity will learn from those tragic experiences the need to act with responsibility and wisdom to avoid the danger of a return to such horrors.”