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Pope Demands World Never Forget Victims Of Armenian 'Genocide'

  • RFE/RL

Pope Francis has demanded that the world never forget the slaughter of Armenians during the Ottoman era, just hours after he declared that the mass killings were part of a planned "genocide" aimed at exterminating the Armenian people.

In Yerevan on June 25, Francis wrote in the guest book of the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial, "Here I pray with sorrow in my heart so that a tragedy like this never again occurs, so that humanity will never forget and will know how to defeat evil with good."

Francis also wrote: "May God protect the memory of the Armenian people. Memory should never be watered-down or forgotten. Memory is the source of peace and the future."

Meanwhile, crowds filled a main square in the northwestern city of Gyumri on June 25 for Francis's only public Catholic Mass during his three-day trip to Armenia.

WATCH: Pope Francis met with the supreme leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicos Garegin II, at an ancient cathedral in the town of Echmiadzin on June 24. Francis praised Armenia for making Christianity an "essential part of its identity."

On June 24, the pope added the politically charged word "genocide" to the prepared text of his speech -- listing the Armenian "genocide" alongside the Holocaust and Stalinism as the three great slaughters of the 20th century.

There was no immediate reaction from Turkey, which rejects the term "genocide" and denies that the Ottoman government tried to systematically exterminate Armenians.

Ankara argues that the deaths of Armenians were part of a collective tragedy in which both Turks and Armenians died.

Turkey also denies the death toll of up to 1.5 million Armenians that is cited by historians, saying that figure is inflated.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP