On December 28, in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and in all the Armenian Apostolic Holy Churches, the Pontifical Encyclical of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians, Issued for the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, was read during Divine Liturgy.
In the Mother See, under the presidency of His Holiness, the Pontifical Encyclical was read during the Divine Liturgy by His Grace Bishop Moushegh Babayan, Director of Administration of the Mother See. Following is the full Pontifical Encyclical:
KAREKIN II, SERVANT OF JESUS CHRIST,
BY THE MERCY OF GOD AND THE WILL OF THE NATION
CHIEF BISHOP AND CATHOLICOS OF ALL ARMENIANS,
SUPREME PATRIARCH OF THE PAN-NATIONAL PREEMINENT ARARATIAN SEE
THE APOSTOLIC MOTHER CHURCH OF UNIVERSAL HOLY ETCHMIADZIN.
CHRIST-BEQUEATHED GREETINGS OF LOVE AND PONTIFICAL BLESSINGS
TO THE CATHOLICIOSATE OF THE GREAT HOUSE OF CILICIA,
TO THE ARMENIAN PATRIARCHATES
OF HOLY JERUSALEM AND CONSTANTINOPLE,
TO ARCHBISHOPS, BISHOPS, PRIESTS AND DEACONS,
TO DIOCESAN ASSEMBLIES,
DIOCESAN AND PAROCHIAL COUNCILS AND OFFICERS,
AND TO ALL BELOVED FAITHFUL ARMENIAN PEOPLE
“The path of the righteous is as the dawning light
that shines brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.”
The centennial of the Armenian Genocide is before us and our souls resound with a powerful call for justice and truth that will not be silenced.
Each day of 2015 is a day of remembrance and devotion for our people, a spiritual journey to the memorials of our martyrs in the Homeland and the Diaspora, before which we humbly kneel in prayer with offerings of incense for the souls of our innocent victims, who abide in unmarked graves, having accepted death rather than rejecting their faith and nation. Indeed “the path of the righteous is as the dawning light that shines brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.”
In 1915, and for years following, Ottoman Turkey committed genocide against our people. In Western Armenia – on our native soil – in the Armenian homeland and in Armenian communities throughout Turkey, one and one half million sons and daughters of our nation were subjected to slaughter, famine and disease, as they were deported and forced to march to their deaths. Centuries of honest accomplishments and creativity were swiftly plundered. Thousands of monasteries and churches were desecrated and destroyed. National institutions and schools were razed and ruined. Our spiritual and cultural treasures were uprooted and obliterated. Western Armenia, where for millennia - from the time of Noah - our people lived, created and built their history and culture, had been wrested from its native population.
A century ago – when the fragments of the Armenian nation, having lost their patrimony, were scattered all over the world, and while Eastern Armenia was waging a life-and-death struggle for survival against Turkish invaders – it was hard to believe in the future of the Armenian people. Nevertheless a new dawn came. By the grace of the Lord, our people rose up from death. On a small, salvaged part of the homeland, our people reestablished statehood, recreated a country out of the ruins and vestiges, and built a “homeland of light and hope,” of science, education and culture. The Armenians exiled throughout the world built homes and hearths, and flourished in countries near and far, carrying on their traditions and spiritual life. Wherever the children of our nation lived, they achieved success, earned respect and trust, and gained recognition for their conscientious work and their contributions to science, the arts and the common welfare. This is the history of our people for the last century – a history of adversity and resurrection. Today, hardships notwithstanding, our nation strengthens its independent statehood, creates its new life of freedom, and looks hopefully to the future, embracing national reawakening, optimism and faith.
Glory to you, O Lord, boundless glory, “Like a shield you protect us with your good favor.” (Psalms 5:12). By placing our hope in You, O Lord, our people were enlightened and strengthened. Your light kindled the ingenuity of our spirit. Your might propelled us to our victories. We created though others destroyed our creations. We continued to live though others wanted us dead. You, O Lord, willed that our people - condemned to death by a genocidal plan - should live and rise again, so that we might raise this just cause before the conscience of humanity and the law of nations, to free the world of the callous indifference of Pilate and the criminal denial of Turkey.
For the sake of justice - until the triumph of our cause, we will continue our struggle without retreat – Church, Nation and State together. The blood of our innocent martyrs and the suffering of our people cry out for justice. Our destroyed shrines, the violation of our national rights, the falsification and distortion of our history all cry out for justice. Having survived genocide, our people believed and continue to believe that the multitude of righteous countries, national and civic organizations, and individuals who have recognized and condemned the Armenian Genocide will be joined by others who believe that the affirmation of truth and justice are the prerequisite and guarantor of a peaceful world free of enmity and violence.
In memory of our one and a half million martyrs of the Genocide, we express our gratitude to the nations, organizations and individuals who have had the courage and conviction to recognize and condemn the Armenian Genocide. We express gratitude to those countries and kind peoples who accepted the children of our nation as brothers and sisters. These examples of justice and humanitarianism are luminous pages in the history of mankind. They shall always be remembered and appreciated for generations, and benefit the peaceful, secure and congenial life of the world.
As Pontiff of the Armenians, it is spiritually consoling to announce to our people that on April 23, 2015, during the Divine Liturgy, our Holy Church will offer a special service canonizing its sons and daughters who accepted martyrdom as saints “for faith and for Homeland”, and will proclaim April 24 as the day of remembrance for the Holy Martyrs of the Genocide.
O, Armenian people, graced from on high - a nation martyred; a nation resurrected - live boldly, advance surely, with your gaze toward Ark-bearing Ararat, and with an unwavering heart, keep your hope great. The Lord's encouragement and message are addressed to you: “Though you are not mighty, you were faithful to my word and you did not betray my name… Hold fast what you have so that no one will take away your crown of victory.” (Revelations 3:8-11). Thus, let us stay on course before God, righteous and true, on the steadfast paths of faith, which like the morning light dispels the darkness and makes the horizons of hope visible. Our way is with God; and the life of faith is our victory. Let us make fruitful the centennial anniversary by valuing our peoples' 100-year-long path of travails and rebirth, so that our children, recognizing the heroic will of their grandparents and parents to live and create, and their commissions undertaken for the sake of nation and homeland, create the bright day of our native land and our people dispersed throughout the world. Let us transform the remembrance of our martyrs into energy and strength in our spiritual and national life, and before God and all people, illuminate the path by our righteous course to guide our way toward the realization of justice and our sacred aspirations.
From our nation's Christ-built and cherished spiritual center, before the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin's Holy Altar of Descent of the Only Begotten, let us pray to God for peace, safety and the welfare of our Homeland, our beloved people throughout the world, and especially, for everlasting light and peace for the innocent souls of the holy martyrs of genocide. May love and brotherhood, justice and truth reign over humankind, and may the ways of the righteous radiate, guide and spread the light until the dawn of a new day brings peace and happiness to all the world.
May the grace, love and peace of our Lord Jesus the Christ be with you and with us all. Amen.
SERVANT OF JESUS CHRIST AND WITH THE UNFATHOMABLE WILL OF GOD
AND THE ELECTION OF OUR NATION, HEAD OF BISHOPS AND
CATHOLICOS OF THE ARMENIANS OF THE GREAT HOUSE OF CILICIA.
GRACE, LOVE, AND PEACE FROM THE LORD AND PONTIFICAL GREETINGS
FROM US AND BLESSINGS FROM THE RIGHT HAND OF OUR FATHER,
SAINT GREGORY THE ILLUMINATOR.
PRELATES, ARCHBISHOPS AND BISHOPS, CELIBATE AND MARRIED CLERGY,
NATIONAL REPRESENTATIVE ASSEMBLIES, RELIGIOUS AND EXECUTIVE COUNCILS. BOARDS OF TRUSTEES, BENEVOLENT ORGANIZATIONS AND SERVANTS OF ARMENIAN EDUCATION, ARMENIAN SCHOOL TEACHERS, JOURNALISTS, AND TO OUR BELOVED AND TRUE CHILDREN TO THE HAIGAZIAN NATION THROUGHOUT THE DIASPORA WITH CHRISTIAN LOVE AND FATHERLY BLESSINGS AND BLESSINGS FROM THE RIGHT HAND OF OUR FATHER, SAINT GREGORY THE ILLUMINATOR. PEACE OF THE LORD, LOVE OF THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON AND THE GRACE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BE WITH YOU AND ALL.
The year 2015 is the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Therefore, the year 2015 must become a different year in its depth and meaning with its goal and message for each and every Armenian.
The Armenian Genocide has left an indelible imprint on the collective memory of the Armenian people. There is no Armenian in the world whose blood has not been forged, or whose life has not been engulfed by the Armenian Genocide. There is no Armenian on earth whose family has not experienced genocide, exile, homelessness, or dispersion.
For one hundred years we remembered with incense and prayers our million and a half martyrs, who were sacrificed in Western Armenia and Cilicia during the genocide planned and executed by the Turkish Ottoman Empire.
For one hundred years we remembered with lament and anger the destruction and ruins of our centuries-old cultural and religious sacred treasures—churches, monasteries, cross-stones, sacred sites, manuscripts, and innumerable spiritual intellectuals by the hand of the same genocidal perpetrator.
We remembered for one hundred years with eruptions and demands for the many thousands of national, religious, and individual properties that were confiscated during the genocide.
Truly, following the 1915 genocide and exile the beautified and flourishing cities and villages produced by the creative Armenian spirit in Western Armenia and Cilicia became a wasteland. How appropriate are the following words of the psalmist for the death and destruction of the Armenian genocide: “O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins. They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the air for food, the flesh of your faithful to the wild animals of the earth. They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them.” (Psalm 79:1-3).
The criminal intent of the genocidal perpetrator was genocide, exile, and the destruction of the Armenian people, and with the dispersion to erase the Armenian people from the world map….
Thereafter, the orphaned Armenian people—the children of the survivors—uprooted from their ancestral land never forgot the martyrs; did not forget their sacred legacy. They heard Christ’s commandment, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matthew 10:28). Girded with this faith and strengthened by the vision of the rebirth of the Armenian people, they re-organized their individual and collective life. They built churches and schools, established community institutions and organizations throughout the Diaspora. They also reminded the perpetrator and all humanity of the unpunished genocide and demanded justice for their people.
Truly, during the last one hundred years, our Church, our Armenian Cause, organizations, and for the past two decades our re-established Armenian Republic, through advocacy, politics, relationships, and other means not only reminded the world about the Armenian genocide, but also continuously and tirelessly pursued recognition of the 20th century’s first genocide that remains unpunished. In fact, today there are a large number of countries, churches, and organizations that have officially recognized the Armenian genocide. Along with Armenians, many non-Armenian scholars have published many works studying the many facets of the Armenian genocide and advocating its recognition.
The children of our people remained faithful, even during their most difficult times, to the legacy of the martyrs and made an oath, again in the words of the psalmist, “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither! Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you” (Psalm 137:5-6). For one hundred continuous years our people’s brave children remembered and reminded others by knocking on the door of people’s closed hearts and minds and making the recognition of the genocide the center of their struggle.
Dear Armenian People,
It is necessary to continue that same sacred struggle with pan-Armenian measures and renewed effort. The time has come for our people to give our demands new impetus and contemporary by bringing it into the judicial realm and in the light of international law pursue their violated rights.
Genocide and human rights declarations clearly state that genocide is a crime against humanity and therefore the criminal, be it an individual, an organizations, or a government, must come before the international court of justice. International law also emphasizes that recognition of genocide means reparation. Therefore, the recognition of the Armenian genocide must not be considered to be the goal of the Armenian people’s demands. Recognition and reparation must be considered together, closely connected as one and indivisible entity and must become the strong foundation and clear goal of the Armenian people’s struggle. It is possible that the current geo-political conditions are not favorable for our demands. Perhaps, the genocidal perpetrator, with its diplomatic and economic effective means will hinder any attempts by our people toward this direction. However, in spite of this harsh reality our people are summoned to continue their demands with even greater faith and commitment.
The Armenian people in Armenia, Artsakh, and the Diaspora, are preparing to commemorate the centennial of the genocide with unified spirit and unified effort. This 100th anniversary is not, nor should it become, an ordinary anniversary. It is our duty to make this date a worthy event in our nation’s life with a high level of zeal and purpose. The 100th anniversary must become a turning point in our people’s struggle to regain our just rights.
The collective sanctification of the martyrs that will take place on April 23, 2015, in Holy Etchmiadzin under the presidency of the Catholicoi, will most certainly be an important event in the 100th anniversary sphere.
It is also necessary to look beyond the 100th anniversary…. The ever-changing world conditions and priorities often need re-examination of approaches, way of acting, and emphasis so that the effort in the pursuit of the Armenian Cause becomes compatible with the reality that surrounds us. It is a duty for us to be alert and always united in our purpose. It is also necessary to properly read “the signs of the times.”
The Armenian Cause is the cause of each Armenian and all Armenians. It is our martyrs’ cause, the cause of our future generations. So every Armenian is called upon to contribute in our pan-Armenian efforts to regain our rights.
On the threshold of the 100th anniversary of the genocide, with this Pontifical Holy Encyclical, we call upon:
Our Prelacies, for the extensive participation of our people at religious services, public meetings, and other events to keep the memory of our martyrs and to keep alive their eternal message.
Our organizations working within the life of our nation, to make collective efforts and with a unified spirit organize and evaluate this important event in our lifetime.
Our educational institutions, to be attentive to the formation of the students in human and Armenian values and give special attention to the 100th anniversary in our schools, teaching our students about the meaning and message of this anniversary.
Our intellectuals, through their research and lectures, to focus on the imperative of recognition of the genocide and the demand for reparations.
To all Armenians, to be full-hearted participants in the efforts on behalf of the Armenian Cause in general, and for the 100th anniversary events in particular.
May the memory of our one-and-one-half million martyrs always remain alive, and their legacy always resonate in our individual and collective lives.
Let us walk forward toward our bright future, renewed with our Christian faith and strengthened by our martyrs’ message.
May you live forever in the Lord, be strengthened with the grace of the Holy Spirit and be forever blessed by us. Amen.
CATHOLICOS OF THE GREAT HOUSE OF CILICIA
Encyclical delivered at the Catholicosate of Cilicia, in
Antelias, Lebanon, December 28, 2014, in the year of our Lord.