Boston faith community remembers victims of Armenian genocide

Votive candle holders with messages remembering victims of the Armenian genocide sit on the steps of Trinity Church in Boston's Copley Square during an April 23 ecumenical prayer service to mark the centennial of the genocide during which 1.5 million people are believed to have perished. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

BOSTON -- Protestants, Orthodox and Catholics filled one of the oldest churches in Boston as they called the tragic events suffered by the Armenian community 100 years ago by the only name that fits -- genocide.

Coordinated by the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of America, Eastern Region, the event drew bishops, clergy and laity to Trinity Church in the Back Bay, April 23, for a memorial vespers on the centennial anniversary of the Armenian genocide suffered in 1915 at the hands of Ottoman Turks.

The prayer service was the first of several events marking the anniversary around the city, including a prayer service and a procession the next day from the State House to the Armenian Heritage Park on the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

One of the first speakers at the service, Ani Karabashian, shared her thoughts as a descendent of Aurora Mardiganian, a survivor of the genocide.

"It is of major importance that we not only remember the stories of those who survived or died during the genocide; no, remembering is not enough. We must share their stories and cultivate global awareness of our history and suffering. We must speak up and never forget," she said.

Governor Charlie Baker highlighted the participation of the Armenian community in Massachusetts, since many immigrated to the United States to escape the genocide.

"The Armenian American community has contributed mightily to the success of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Our state is home to the oldest Armenian Church in America, and we are happy to have the second largest community in the nation," he said.

"Our nation's efforts were notable to help save the survivors of the Armenian genocide at that time, but we should never forget the innocent lives that were lost," the governor said.

Metropolitan Methodios, leader of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston, lead the opening prayer of the vespers service.

He struck a note of solidarity between the Greek and Armenian communities of Massachusetts.

"The Greek American community of New England feels a special bond with our Armenian brethren, especially those that live in Watertown. I commend the Mass. Council of Churches, the Armenian community, and the interreligious community for organizing this centennial commemoration. The memories of the victims of 1915 must never be forgotten, not only by their descendants, but by people of goodwill throughout the world," he said.

"What happened in 1915 is being repeated today throughout the Middle East and Africa. We are appalled by the brutality inflicted upon people of every religion. Many turn a blind eye, but we must not remain silent before such ongoing, horrific acts of brutality. To do so would be disrespectful to the memory of our Armenian brethren. We must raise our voices in solidarity and prayer. As St. Paul reminds us," Metropolitan Methodios said, as he quoted Corinthians. "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together."

The metropolitan set the stage for remarks from Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart, leader of the Melkite Catholic Archdiocese of Aleppo, Syria.

Archbishop Jeanbart noted the closeness of the Catholic community in the Syrian city of Aleppo with Armenian Christians whose forefathers made the city their home after the 1915 genocide. Affirmations of recognition could be heard from Armenians in the pews at Trinity Church as the archbishop started speaking.

"We have always lived with them. We love them, and we heal with them and we heal with you when we share their suffering. We ask the Lord to give them strength as he gave their ancestors," he said.

Earlier in the day, those killed in the genocide were officially proclaimed saints by the Armenian Apostolic Church. The Melkite Archbishop of Aleppo acknowledged the new saints and any of their descendants present.

"They shed their blood in that awful time in the beginning of the 20th century. They shed their blood, they died, that you may live," the archbishop of Aleppo said.

In her sermon, Rev. Laura E. Everett, the executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, echoed a theme of the night, when she pointed to the example of Christ driving an unclean spirit from a possessed man in the Gospel as a demonstration of the power of truth in the face of evil -- particularly the power of identifying a specific evil by name.

"We will name the evil that has overtaken this body, this body of Christ. We will name this evil for what it is -- genocide," she said.

A statement from Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, read by auxiliary Bishop Arthur L. Kennedy, explained the commitment to witness to the world on the truth of the genocide, with special regard for the victims, the people of Armenian heritage, and the faith tradition that sustained itself through the horror.

"There is no division among them. Therefore, they are the saints not just of some of us, but of all of us. Their Lord is one. Their witness is one. Their blood is one," he said.

He said Christians owe martyrs a unified witness to the truth.

"But to the martyrs of 1915 we also owe the full recognition of the monstrously systematic murder and assassination of identity be called genocide," the cardinal said.

"Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it," the cardinal's statement quoted Pope Francis.

Before the benediction and dismissal, the gathered sung the Lord's Prayer in Armenian led by Father Daniel Kindikyan of the Eastern Diocese Armenian Orthodox Church.

Nation
Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Nation
Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

World
Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Local
Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Local
Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Local
Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Local
Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Local
Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

Nation
N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

Nation
U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Nation
Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

World
Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

World
Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

World
In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Nation
Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Nation
Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

World
Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

World
Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

World
Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

World
Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

World
Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...

World
Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Nation
Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Nation
Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

World
Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Nation
Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Nation
Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Nation
Advocates decry historically low cap for refugee entry in 2019

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates for refugee admissions into the United States decried what one statement called a historically low cap of 30,000 for fiscal ...