Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, and other top political and religious leaders attended a service at the Washington National Cathedral on May 7 commemorating the mass killing of Armenians a century ago.
President Sarkisian called for greater international humanity, peace, and justice, saying the absence of those values created the environment for the mass killing and deportation of 1.5 Armenians by the Ottoman Empire 100 years ago, as well as the massacre of 6 million Jews during World War II, and other more recent genocidal episodes in Darfur, Rwanda, and Cambodia.
The service was led by prominent Armenian clerics Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, and Aram I Keshishian, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia.
"I believe that, according to teaching of all religions, justice is a gift of God. And rejection of justice is a sin against God. Justice is also the core of human rights," said Aram I in his speech.
Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, and Ignatius Aphrem II Patriarch of Antioch joined the Armenian religious leaders in prayer.
The ecumenical service, organized by the "Committee of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide" and honoring the "Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide," used the controversial term eschewed by the U.S. government but accepted by 44 U.S. states to describe what happened to Armenians a century ago.
The ceremony follows the April 24th official day of commemoration when Armenians worldwide marked the 100th anniversary and called on Turkey to officially acknowledge its role and responsibility for the massacre.