Pope Francis’ comments in April about war and the Armenian Genocide at the Mass for the Faithful of the Armenian Rite are worth consideration.
“On a number of occasions I have spoken of our time as a time of war, a third world war which is being fought piecemeal,” he said, “one in which we daily witness savage crimes, brutal massacres and senseless destruction.
“Sadly, today too we hear the muffled and forgotten cry of so many of our defenseless brothers and sisters who, on account of their faith in Christ or their ethnic origin, are publicly and ruthlessly put to death — decapitated, crucified, burned alive — or forced to leave their homeland.”
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS, Daesh) has been the main genocidal force that has murdered and imprisoned many Christians, Yazidis, Shiite Muslims and others.
Christian and Yazidi females — including very young girls, have been enslaved and trafficked. The brutality they endure is unfathomable.
“Today too we are experiencing a sort of genocide created by general and collective indifference,” the Pope noted, “by the complicit silence of Cain, who cries out: ‘What does it matter to me? Am I my brother’s keeper?’
“In the past century our human family has lived through three massive and unprecedented tragedies. The first, which is widely considered ‘the first genocide of the twentieth century’ …, struck your own Armenian people, the first Christian nation, as well as Catholic and Orthodox Syrians, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Greeks. Bishops and priests, religious, women and men, the elderly and even defenseless children and the infirm were murdered.
“The remaining two were perpetrated by Nazism and Stalinism. And more recently there have been other mass killings,” he continued, “like those in Cambodia, Rwanda, Burundi and Bosnia.”
The Pope addressed humanity’s frustrating inability to protect the innocent:
“It seems that humanity is incapable of putting a halt to the shedding of innocent blood. It seems that the enthusiasm generated at the end of the Second World War has dissipated and is now disappearing. It seems that the human family has refused to learn from its mistakes caused by the law of terror, so that today too there are those who attempt to eliminate others with the help of a few and with the complicit silence of others who simply stand by. We have not yet learned that ‘war is madness’, ‘senseless slaughter’.”
He then addressed the Armenian Genocide:
“Dear Armenian Christians, today, with hearts filled with pain but at the same time with great hope in the risen Lord, we recall the centenary of that tragic event, that immense and senseless slaughter whose cruelty your forebears had to endure. It is necessary, and indeed a duty, to honor their memory, for whenever memory fades, it means that evil allows wounds to fester. Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it!”