One Hundred Years.
A Century with no "official" acknowledgement that it even happened.
Today, in a Mass at St. Peter's, with Armenian Church leaders and President Sarkisian in Attendance, Pope Francis went there:
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Sunday marked the 100th anniversary of the slaughter of Armenians by calling the massacre by Ottoman Turks "the first genocide of the 20th century" and urging the international community to recognize it as such. Turkey immediately responded by recalling its ambassador and accusing Francis of spreading hatred and "unfounded claims."Naturally, the Turks vigorously denied it was genocide using the same arguments they've used for 100 years.
Francis issued the pronouncement during a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica commemorating the centenary that was attended by Armenian church leaders and President Serge Sarkisian, who praised the pope for [telling the truth]* and "delivering a powerful message to the international community."
"The words of the leader of a church with 1 billion followers cannot but have a strong impact," he told The Associated Press.
*Diarist removed phrase in brackets because of possible unpleasant connotations
Turkey has fiercely lobbied to prevent countries, including the Holy See, from officially recognizing the Armenian massacre as genocide and reacted strongly to Francis' declaration.
Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century.The United States is one of the countries that has yet to recognize the slaughter as genocide, due to the desire to not rile an important ally in the Muslim world, and especially one in the fight against ISIS.
Turkey, however, denies a genocide took place. It has insisted that the toll has been inflated and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.
"The pope's statement, which is far from historic and legal truths, is unacceptable," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted. "Religious positions are not places where unfounded claims are made and hatred is stirred."
The Foreign Ministry summoned the Vatican's envoy in Ankara, and then announced it was recalling its own ambassador to the Vatican for consultations.
In a statement, the ministry said the Turkish people would not recognize the pope's statement "which is controversial in every aspect, which is based on prejudice, which distorts history and reduces the pains suffered in Anatolia under the conditions of the First World War to members of just one religion."
Adam Schiff (D-CA) has introduced a new resolution recognizing the genocide and said he hoped the pope's words would "inspire our president and Congress to demonstrate a like commitment to speaking the truth about the Armenian genocide and to renounce Turkey's campaign of concealment and denial."