Pope Francis has paid tribute to an estimated 1.5 million Armenians massacred in 1915, and repeated the word “genocide” – which infuriated Turkey when he said it a year ago.
On the second day of his trip to Armenia he took part in a prayer service near Yerevan along with President Sarksyan and leaders of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
I pray with pain in my heart so that never again will there be tragedies like this, he said. The memory can be neither covered up nor forgotten.
The pope’s use of the word “genocide” came last night when he departed from his prepared text during a speech.
Last year Turkey reacted by recalling its ambassador to the Vatican. Ankara accepts many Christian Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War I, but contests the figures and denies the killings were systematically orchestrated.
Pope Francis met around a dozen descendants of survivors who had in turn been met by his distant predecessor Benedict XV during the First World War.