For the Roman Catholic Church, the meaning of the Armenian Genocide begins with great sadness and the recognition of the overwhelming loss of each human life taken from us in the Metz Yeghem, the Great Crime.
Below is the letter Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley issued on the occasion of the Ecumenical Prayer Service to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide held at Trinity Church in Boston April 23, 2015
Your Eminence, Your Excellencies, Your Grace, Reverend Clergy, Religious, Treasured Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Distinguished Guests, Honored Friends:
Please know of my prayerful solidarity with you this evening. It was my intention to join you for this most important commemoration prior to being called to the funeral Mass for His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop Emeritus of Chicago.
For the Roman Catholic Church, the meaning of the Armenian Genocide begins with great sadness and the recognition of the overwhelming loss of each human life taken from us in the Metz Yeghem, the Great Crime. Such evil extends beyond human vision. Where sight fails we must continue with different eyes, the eyes of faith. And in faith, we see how those we have lost are ours forever because their martyrdom ensures they await us above, in the one place we can never lose our loved ones. The Holy Father Pope Francis has said, it "was a true martyrdom of your people," and in Heaven the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant martyrs are already enjoying the full communion we Christians on earth still seek. 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.
My dear brothers and sisters, we must honor the martyrs and never deny the horrors they endured. We must never forget the mothers who encountered a contemporary experience of Herod, killing the innocent, from whose mouths "a voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and lamentation," the fathers, the elders, the orphans and the children who gave their lives because they would never forsake their families or their faith.
We owe them unity, to stand as one for their Lord. Since the martyrs are like our elder brothers and sisters in the Christian family, the first duty we owe to them is to draw the family together. · We owe them our witness, to stand as one for the message they sealed with the ultimate testimony. We owe them our voices to carry on their song.
We honor and are indebted to all the martyrs of our churches. But to the martyrs of 1915 we also owe the full recognition of the systematic murder and assassination of identity that is genocide. As Pope Francis has said, "Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it."
There can be no more denial. The attempt to take not just persons, but an entire people, not just individuals but one of the civilizations of humankind, is the Armenian Genocide. We owe these martyrs the commitment to stand against all genocide and crimes against humanity, especially those being perpetrated against Christians throughout the world these very days. We owe them our help in rebuilding the churches and the faith, the culture and the civilization of Armenia, the first Christian nation since 30I AD, a gift forever to all peoples but especially a gift to the Body of Christ. For your spiritual wealth, for the lived faith of 1700 years, for the wisdom of St. Gregory of Narek, Doctor of the Church, we owe our full spiritual esteem.
Ultimately the genocide was a failed attempt. This evening we gather to give witness to and to celebrate the living, vibrant, growing heritage of Armenian spirituality, holy tradition, and faith which is a treasure for the Church of Jesus Christ everywhere and forever. May the Lord bless us, strengthen the bonds that unite us and lead us forward to build up the Kingdom of God in our world today.
Recent articles in the Spirituality section
'We recommit our Church in Boston to work for healing'Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley
The sex abuse crisis and Church teachingMichael Pakaluk
Chastity and LoveFather Ron Rolheiser
An Ode to the ChurchFather Ron Rolheiser
How to RespondFather Ron Rolheiser