Christians caught in decades-long conflict in Azerbaijan

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The Nagorno Karabakh region is located in Azerbaijan. But it has a majority ethnic Armenian population. As a result, there has been an ongoing conflict centered on which country has rights to the region. Yet, more often than not, it has evolved into attacks on anyone or anything. More than 100 Christian churches have been completely destroyed.

Responsible for Armenian Church in Antwerpen (Belgium)

There are so many videos where Azerbaijanis enter the churches and they start destroying everything they find—icons and crucifixes.
The newer, more recently built churches were completely destroyed. They have ruined them. But the churches that many European countries recognize as international heritage sites, they cannot destroy.

Nagorno Karabakh was created in 1923 by the Soviet Union. But with the fall of communism, war erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan —and Christians found themselves caught in the middle.

Responsible for Armenian Church in Antwerpen

There is a monastery in Nagorno Karabakh. It is called Dadivank. Our monks have always been there and the Azerbaijani forbade our faithful to go to this monastery to pray. In fact, they also forbade other priests from relieving the ones who are already there.

While this war has been raging on for more than 30 years, few heads of state continue to speak about it. However, Pope Francis has consistently remembered the situation people face in this region.

From his visit to Armenia in 2016…

…to his speech to the diplomatic corps at the Vatican this year.

I also express my concern for the tense situation in the South Caucasus between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and I urge the parties to arrive at the signing of a peace treaty. It is urgent that a solution be found to the dramatic humanitarian situation of those living in that region.

His words continue to be a source of hope and comfort for Armenian Christians.

Responsible for Armenian Church in Antwerpen

To me, his words are a consolation, because we know that a true pastor always goes to console his brothers. This is a consolation. But if we want to measure the weight of his words, it always depends on followers. If a person has many followers, truly his word will also be very impactful.

The two sides of the conflict have been working towards a peace treaty over the past 2 years but have yet to reach it. When a peace accord is finally signed, the more than 120,000 ethnic Armenians who have been forced to flee could be able to return home.


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