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Pope Francis prays with Head of the Armenian Church, Karekin II

2014-05-08

Pope Francis prayed with the Patriarch of the Armenian Church, Karekin II, at the Vatican's Redemptoris Mater Chapel. It was a symbol of ecumenical unity that followed an earlier meeting at the Vatican's Apostolic Palace. 

During that session the Pope talked about Armenia's 20th century martyrs. Even though the word 'genocide' was not used, he said Armenia has a place of honor in martyrology. 

POPE FRANCIS
"The number of disciples who have shed blood for Christ in the tragic events of the last century is certainly higher than that of the martyrs of the first centuries.” 

The Pope described that period as both tragic and lofty and one that must not be forgotten. He also said that the blood of martyrs can be seeds of unity among Christians. 

POPE FRANCIS
"The ecumenism of suffering and martyrdom is a powerful reminder to walk the path of reconciliation between the Churches, decisively and trustfully surrendering ourselves to the action of the Spirit.”

This is actually not the first time Pope Francis and the Patriarch have met. He attended the Pope's first Mass as Bishop of Rome. As the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the Pope had also met with him in Argentina. 

POPE FRANCIS
"Last time we saw each other was here at the Vatican. But before that, twice in Buenos Aires.” 

As a gift, the Patriarch gave the Pope an Armenian Cross. He kissed it and then Pope Francis did the same. 

Pope Francis then gave him a replica of the Bodmer Papyrus, believed to be the oldest codex of the Psalms in Greek. 

In the past few years, the relationship between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic Church has improved. John Paul II visited Armenia in 2001 and seven years later, Patriarch Karekin II visited Benedict XVI at the Vatican. He traveled to Rome again in 2013 to congratulate Pope Francis at the start of his pontificate. 

The Patriarch was elected in 1999. 


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