The Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide: A Prayer for Justice and Peace

Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin – May 2015

On the evening of May 7, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; President Serzh Sargsyan of the Republic of Armenia; and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia; attended an ecumenical prayer service: The Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide: A Prayer for Justice and Peace. The prayer service was offered at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C., USA. The service was held in commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, as part of the activities organized by The National Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of the United States.

Washington DC, May 7, 2015

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst
for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
Matthew 5:6

Your Excellency, the President of the Republic of Armenia,
Your Excellency, the Vice President of the United States of America,
My Spiritual Brothers in Christ, the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia,
and the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
Your Eminences and Reverend Clergy,
Honored Dignitaries and Guests,
Dear Faithful Sons and Daughters of our Church,

It is with abiding Christian love and the life-giving and renewing tiding of “Christ is Risen from the dead”, which is on our lips during this season of Eastertide, that we greet you at the ecumenical service commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in this sanctuary of the National Cathedral in Washington.

Our unwavering faith in the reality of Christ’s resurrection keeps our hope unshaken that, in accord with the words of our Lord, all those who hunger and thirst for righteousness shall be fully satisfied.

With faith in the resurrection of Christ and the power of these words, in all corners of the world in recent days, the sons and daughters of our people, joined by their brothers and sisters of different nationalities and creeds, came together as one; to once again not only remember the one and a half million innocent martyrs of the Armenian Genocide, but also to be encouraged and rejoice in their spiritual bravery in sacrificing themselves for Christ and never renouncing their faith and nation.

In the face of the horror and terror of the crime of the Armenian Genocide, the other episodes of loss and suffering that have been borne by our nation pale in comparison. Before the magnitude of the Genocide of the Armenians and the discordant reality of the indifference of the world at the time, for the past 100 years, our people have thirsted and hungered for justice more than anything else.

During the early centuries following Christ, just as the powerful in this world refused to accept the truth of His Resurrection, so too during the past 100 years there have been deniers of the undeniable reality of the Armenian Genocide, who try to refute the irrefutable. Upon the altar of special interests and political ambitions of various states, our nation’s demand for justice has many times been sacrificed as a burnt offering, and denial and impunity became a precedent for new tragedies of genocide. Our spiritual brother, His Holiness Pope Francis – underscored the importance of the recognition and condemnation of the Genocide of the Armenians, during the mass offered for the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, saying, “concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it.”

Our people rose again from the Golgotha of the Genocide and through their tireless efforts, they created new life, a new state on a rescued portion of their homeland. Today they face the difficulties of an illegal blockade and a fragile peace, but they also witness the recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide by many, and believe the wound of Genocide will be dressed with the bandages of justice by the international community. That wound does not only belong to the Armenians – it is the wound of all mankind. In this regard, doing justice for the Armenian Genocide is a duty and imperative toward all generations, so that we pass on a better world, where new genocides will never again darken the life of humanity.

Today, as we commemorate the holy martyrs of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by Ottoman Turkey, we remember the hundreds of thousands of Greeks and Syriac Christians who were also victimized by the same perpetrators. We remember the other crimes against humanity of the 20th century: the Jewish Holocaust, the genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda and elsewhere.

At present, we are again witnessing the terror, violation of human rights, mass murder and ethnic cleansing in different corners throughout the world. People continue to suffer due to political, economic, interethnic and religious conflicts. In the Middle East, and especially in Syria and Iraq, unspeakable tragedies are taking place. Christians also are being martyred for their faith and holy places are being destroyed. Only a few days ago, Aleppo’s fifteenth-century Armenian Church – the Church of the Forty Martyrs – was intentionally targeted and destroyed, adding it to the list of ruins.

The endless and overflowing crises of these painful realities, and the memory of the canonized martyrs of the Armenian Genocide, the victims of other genocides and crimes against humanity, obliges us to take action through all the means of international law at our disposal and with inter-Church and inter-faith cooperation, to prevent all such evils and crimes against humanity, human life and dignity. As we face this common concern, all of us – state, church and society – must ensure that in harmony with the scientific and technological advances of the 21st century, that the spiritual-moral value system is held high. Because these paths, to a great extent, are the consequence of the retreat of moral values in society.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
At this significant milestone, as we mark the Centennial of the Genocide of the Armenians, on behalf of our people and with a grateful heart, we humbly acknowledge all those nations, secular and religious organizations and institutions, individuals of the Christian and other faiths, for supporting the recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide and for joining our people’s demand for justice. We humble ourselves as well before all those who extended their helping hands to our people during the devastating days of the Genocide, giving them refuge and protecting them. Among whom, the people of the United States of America hold a special place and to whom we owe a debt of gratitude which shall not be forgotten: From President Woodrow Wilson and Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, to the relief organizations and workers who came to the aid of the Armenians in our time of need. We also express our deep appreciation to the National Council of Churches of the United States and to the other sister churches for their assistance, not only for standing at our side during the years of Genocide, but also for benefiting the raising of awareness surrounding the “Armenian Question” in the United States.

On the occasion of this centennial commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, before the memory of the holy martyrs and victims, it is our call and exhortation for nations, states and their leaders to call things by their rightful names without further delay, and to recognize and condemn the Armenian Genocide.

We pray for an end to all crimes against humanity, suffering and pain in our world, and for true brotherhood to be established among peoples and nations, and that all souls that thirst and hunger for justice be filled with peace and reconciliation.

On this solemn occasion, we extend our deep appreciation to all the individuals and organizations who sponsored and organized this ecumenical service, and to all who graciously contributed to it.

May the grace, peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us always. Amen.