WASHINGTON — This week, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a strong statement in anticipation of Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day on April 24.
In the document dated April 19, 2021, Bishop David J. Malloy, chair of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, highlighted the tragic loss of Armenians in the first genocide of the 20th century, echoing the spirit of concern and solidarity the Catholic Church has held with the Armenian Church. The statement builds on that history, which includes the November 2000 joint statement of Pope John Paul II and His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and the 2003 delegation of US bishops to Armenia, led by Cardinal William Keeler at the invitation of the Catholicos.
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the Diocesan Legate and Ecumenical Director of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian church of America, said of the USCCB statement: “Having worked with the Catholic bishops for many years, I am grateful for their strong and timely message, which strengthens our calls for forthright, international recognition of the Armenian Genocide.”
Bishop Malloy’s full statement appears below.
April 24 is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, marking the 1915 start of a campaign that resulted in the death of as many as 1.2 million Armenian Christians — victims of mass shootings, death marches to distant camps, torture, assaults, starvation, and disease. Thousands of Armenian children were torn from their families and forcibly converted. This horrific tragedy was intended to eliminate the Armenian people and their culture in what has been called the ‘first genocide of the 20th century.’
But Armenia and the Armenian people survived and endured despite their suffering and persecution. I echo the prayers of our Holy Father, Pope Francis when he offered his prayers for justice and peace following a trip to Armenia in 2016: ‘A people that suffered so much throughout its history, and faith alone, faith has kept this people on its feet. The fact that [Armenia] was the first Christian nation is not enough; it was the first Christian nation because the Lord blessed it, because it had its saints, it had its holy bishops and martyrs…’