For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
tel. (202) 775-1918
Central Valley Congressmen Welcome Pope Francis Visit to Armenia; Urge US to Follow Pontiff’s Lead in Reaffirming Armenian Genocide
WASHINGTON, DC – Central Valley, California Congressmen David Valadao (R-CA) and Jim Costa (D-CA) welcomed Pope Francis’ trip to Armenia this weekend, highlighting the global importance of his impending visit to the Armenian Genocide Memorial (Tsitsernakabert), reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
In a statement released on the eve of Pope Francis’ arrival in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, Rep. Costa called the Holy See a “moral compass of the Catholic faith and it is from this high moral ground that His Holiness rightfully recognizes Armenia as the first nation to recognize Christianity and speaks to the moral challenges of our time. The Pontiff’s visit to Armenia is further proof of his commitment to the Armenian people.” Referencing the Pope’s Centennial statement acknowledging this crime in 2015, Rep. Costa urged “the President and Congress to follow the lead of Pope Francis and finally adopt a clear policy recognizing the Armenian Genocide.”
Rep. Valadao, lead sponsor of the Armenian Genocide Truth + Justice Resolution (H.Res.154) along with House Intelligence Committee Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rep. Robert Dold (R-Il), applauded Pope Francis’ decision to visit the Armenian Genocide Memorial. “It is important that world leaders continue to draw attention to the horrible events of the Armenian Genocide that took place over 100 years ago,” explained Rep. Valadao. “While we continue to work on H.Res. 154, U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide, my hope is that the Pope offering homage to the victims provides a sense of peace to the Armenian community.”
ANCA Central California’s Paul Jamushian welcomed the statements, noting, “The ANCA of Central California joins with Armenians worldwide in thanking Congressmen Valadao and Costa, echoing their powerful call upon our own government to follow the Pope’s moral leadership in challenging Turkey’s ongoing denial of both truth and justice for the Armenian Genocide.”
Armenian Americans will be closely following His Holiness Pope Francis’ historic trip to Armenia this weekend, energized by his moral leadership during the Armenian Genocide Centennial last year and hopeful that his courage will inspire our U.S. President and Congress to end their complicity in Turkey’s genocide denial.
The Pontiff’s visit to the Armenian Genocide Memorial (Tzitzernakaberd) will take place Saturday morning (local time).
All of Pope Francis’ public events will be streamed online live by the Vatican and broadcast on EWTN network, with special segments on Armenia throughout the weekend. Armenian news outlets including Yerkir Media, Asbarez and the Armenian Weekly will be posting updates on their websites and social media.
Pope Francis and Armenian Genocide Affirmation
Pope Francis reaffirmed the Armenian Genocide on April 12, 2015, during an unprecedented Vatican mass commemorating the 100th anniversary of that crime.
In remarks delivered at the opening of the commemorative mass, Pope Francis noted, “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.”
Pope Francis went on to state that, “It is necessary, and indeed a duty, to honour 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!”
At the end of the mass, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, thanked Pope Francis for his reaffirmation of truth, and stated, “International law spells out clearly that condemnation, recognition and reparation of a genocide are closely interconnected.” He went on to note that the Armenian cause is a cause of justice, and that justice is a gift of God. “Therefore, the violation of justice is a sin against God.”
In his remarks, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, stated “Our ancient people were uprooted from their cradle and historic homeland and scattered around the world. Our centuries-old Christian heritage was torn down, destroyed and seized. However, nothing — neither suffering, nor persecution or even death — forced our people to renounce their sacred faith.”
His Holiness Karekin II and His Holiness Aram I will lead Armenian clergy in welcoming the Pope to Armenia on Friday, June 24th at 3:00pm local time (7 am EST / 4 am PST).
Armenia is the first country to have adopted Christianity as its state religion in 301 AD. About 93% of Armenians worldwide belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church and about 5% belong to the Armenian Catholic Church.