Pope Francis spoke of the mass killing, of possibly as many as 1.5 million mainly Christian Armenians, in 1915 during the Ottoman Turkish rule, as genocide. He said:
“Sadly, that tragedy, that genocide, was 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 untrammelled 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.”
Pope Francis blessed Armenia saying, “May God bless and protect Armenia, a land illumined by the faith, the courage of the martyrs and that hope which proves stronger than any suffering” and he expressed his hope for church unity with Armenian Orthodox leaders saying, “With great joy, we are walking together on a journey that has already taken us far, and we look confidently towards the day when by God’s help we shall be united around the altar of Christ’s sacrifice in the fullness of Eucharistic communion”.