Genocidio Armenio


Cultura y sociedad

lunes, 20 de abril de 2015

The Armenian friend of Pope Francis: The story behind the recognition of the Armenian Genocide

"Il primo genocidio del XX secolo" says Pope Francis with slow and measured voice, during the Mass on Sunday April 12, 2015. He is reading, but he looks at the people before uttering the word "genocide".

Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's prime minister said that Pope Francis "has joined this conspiracy" to form an "evil front" against the Turkish government and has "ignorance or insufficient knowledge of history." Volkan Bozkir, Turkish Minister for European Affairs, said that the Pope said what he said because he "was Argentine," a country "that welcomed the leading executors of the Jewish Holocaust, Nazi torturers, with open arms." Then he added that "unfortunately, in Argentina, the Armenian diaspora controls the media and business." Cemil Çiçek, president of the Turkish Parliament, claimed that the Pope's words were "racist." The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was even harder: "Whenever politicians, religious functionaries assume the duties of historians, then delirium comes out, not fact."

What happened so that Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis, pronounced one of the most important speeches in the history of the fight for recognition and repair of the genocide against the Armenian people perpetrated by the Turkish state?

The person who is closer to answering this question, besides Pope Francis, is Archbishop Kissag Mouradian, Primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church for Argentina and Chile Republic. Born in Aleppo, Syria, Mouradian studied and was ordained in Jerusalem. He arrived to Argentina in 1975.

Behind the accusations of the Turkish government, there is a simple story. "The only difference I have with him, is that he is fan of San Lorenzo and I am fan of River Plate," says the archbishop at the beginning of the interview with Agencia Prensa Armenia. "He usually calls me Mouradian," recalls.

Asked if the Pope had anticipated that he would call the genocide by its name, Archbishop Kissag Mouradian said that he had not said anything before. "I was sure that he was going to say something, because if he especially celebrated the Mass, he had to say something."

"The most important thing was to affirm what he always said and asked. Turkey has to recognize the genocide for the welfare of the two peoples, both Armenian and Turkish. Truth is always better than trying to deny or lie," says Mouradian.

"Not only my friendship caused all this. The proximity to the Armenian community in Argentina has influenced so that Bergoglio feel the truth as it is. Thanks to what we did here for years, through ecumenism, he managed to understand many things. That work helped so that the future Pope knew the history of the Armenians. He is someone who has studied much, and certainly prepares before giving a sermon," he adds.

Before the historical Mass, the Pope received on Friday April 10 a delegation from Argentina. "We were going to be fifteen or twenty people and ended up going forty. When we greeted him, Pope Francis told me: 'If you were twenty I could have invited you to eat. Now it is impossible'," says the Archbishop, laughing.

The friendship between them "took hold when he called me to accompany him to the prayer of the tragedy of Cromañon", back in 2005. The tragedy of Cromañon nightclub was a fire that occurred in Buenos Aires, on 30 December 2004, an accident that killed 194 people. "That day, in the morning, my phone rang and Bergoglio said: 'Mouradian please do not leave me alone, join me to say a prayer at the Cathedral for the tragedy of Cromañon'. It was very hard, the Cathedral was crowded with people holding photos of the victims. We were just him and I, along with other priests. At the door, people asked to pray for them and one was aware of the impotence they had. It seems that people expected a miracle from us, to return them the lives of the children who were lost. You feel you want to help, but you also need help," recounts Mouradian.

- Did you met more often after that sad event?

On April 24 we officiated ceremonies of dirge in the Cathedral of Buenos Aires, where he always addressed his words to the Armenian people. On one of these occasions he called on Turkey to recognize his crime to enhance the relationship and doing good to the Armenian people and the Turkish people. At that time he was a bishop and was not recognized worldwide. Today is different, he is the Pope and head of the Vatican.

We also shared several ecumenical prayers, especially those organized by the St. Egidio group, created by John Paul II, which helps homeless.

When the Armenians opened an altar of Jude Thaddaeus in the Basilica of La Merced, he asked to do another one of Saint Bartholomew. They are the two apostles who went to Armenia to Christianize the Armenian people.

In the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires there is a Khachkar to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, and it was also placed at the express request of Bergoglio. He asked, as a wish, that someday he wanted to be buried under the Armenian Khachkar at the Metropolitan Cathedral.

- How do you think he received the reply of Turkish officials that even call him a discriminator?

If he caused all this, it is because he was ready to face Turkey. He always told the truth and was in favor of justice. He is very brave and very convinced of his convictions, they will not change for anything. He is firm with justice and truth.

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