In a response to the news that the Turkish Republic has recalled its envoy to the Vatican in retaliation at Pope Francis referring to the Armenian Genocide, Abba Seraphim observed that this came as no surprise, as Turkey has a long history of denial.
Abba Seraphim applauded the Catholic Church, and other churches, who are sharing with the Armenian and Syriac Churches the commemoration of those tragic events, which saw a million and a half Armenians, as well as an estimated 300,000 Syriac Christians, driven to their deaths in a deliberately orchestrated attempt to remove them from their ancient homelands. They died as a consequence of the exertions suffered by the forced deportations of the infirm and elderly, as well as women and children, or by deliberately butchering those who might otherwise have defended themselves and their families.
The historical evidence for these terrible events is overwhelming, whilst Genocide denial, which attempts to distort the facts, questions the motivation of those remembering the victims, and even blames the victims themselves, is shameful and dishonest. Evidence has shown that those nations which can face up to their faults and have the humility to ask forgiveness for their collective sins, grow in moral stature, gain the esteem of their peers and are listened to with respect when they have something to say. Sadly Mr. Erdogan, the current President of Turkey, who, on coming to power, promised a moderate form of Islam, has proved himself authoritarian, increasingly intolerant of criticism, and a destabilising influence in the region as he steadily erodes the secular foundations of the Turkish Republic in favour of increasing Islamicisation.
The recent rise of the so-called Islamic Caliphate is predicated on the same genocidal theories which seeks the destruction of those who do not belong to the same ‘race’, which in this case is not simply a question of ethnicity, but an ever-narrowing interpretation of religious faith. Although a more recent manifestation, it is actually the heir of earlier evils which seek to destroy those whom the Creator brought into being.
Abba Seraphim reiterated that The British Orthodox Church stands in solidarity with our Armenian and Syriac brethren in commemorating these innocents who died in 1915 and will respond positively to the appeal by Their Holinesses the Supreme Catholicos of All Armenian, Patriarch Karekin II and Mar Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch, that they should be remembered at Special Services of Prayer on 21 April.