By Vatican News staff writer
Saturday, 24 April, marks the 106th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, known as the “Metz Yeghern”, or the “Great Evil Crime”.
To commemorate this tragic event, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Pontifical Armenian College in Rome.
In his homily, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches called the Metz Yeghern a “stain on humanity’s history.”
Bu, he added, the Armenian people who fell victim to “a systematic, planned suffering” did not lose the “treasure of faith.”
Up to 1.5 million Armenian Christians lost their lives in what historians say was an ethnic cleansing carried out by the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
In 2016, while visiting Armenia, Pope Francis called the tragedy a “genocide”.
“This tragedy, this genocide,” said the Pope on 24 June while speaking to Armenia’s civil authorities, “was the first of a 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.”
During Saturday’s Divine Liturgy, Cardinal Sandri recalled the pain inflicted upon the Armenian people, who endured “inhuman violence to the point of death.”
Yet, he praised their “work ethic and intelligence” and called them a people who produced saints like St. Gregory of Narek, who “enlightened humanity far beyond the boundaries of Armenia.”
The Cardinal likened the Armenian genocide to the Shoah, which saw millions of Jews exterminated in concentration camps. He said tragedies such as these lead us to ask ourselves where God was.
Consolation of God
At times like these, he said, Divine Mercy comes to our aid through God’s consolation.
“The Gospel gives us the consolation in considering that the sons and daughters of the Armenian people who fell victim to the extermination of 106 years ago are ‘friends of God’, conformed to the selfsame existence of Christ.”
Cardinal Sandri concluded his homily recalling the hope embodied in Jesus’ parable of the wheat.
“The lives of our brothers and sisters,” he said, “was like that of Jesus: a grain of wheat which fell to the ground and in death gave life to the entire world, saving it. Their fruit endures, and it is we in the world today who celebrate in the faith.”