Pope prays at Armenian massacre memorial after condemning "genocide"

Pope Francis paid his respects to Armenian massacre victims on Saturday during a visit to the Tsitsernakaberd memorial complex in the capital Yerevan.

At the start of a three-day trip to Armenia on Friday, Francis condemned the mass killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Turkish Ottoman troops during 1915-16 as "genocide," a term strongly denied by Turkey, who say the number is inflated.

In silent prayer, the pope laid a wreath and a yellow rose at the memorial before planting a tree nearby, ahead of a meeting with a dozen people whose relatives escaped the killings and were given shelter by Pope Benedict XV during World War I.

Later on Saturday the pope is scheduled to lead prayers for peace on Yerevan's Republic Square. On Sunday he will join a pilgrimage to the Khor Virap monastery, which overlooks the biblical Mount Ararat across a closed border with Turkey.

Armenia has a special place in Christianity because it was the first nation to adopt it as a state religion, in 301 AD. John Paul II was the last pope to visit it in 2001, to mark the 1,700th anniversary of the country's conversion.

Last update: Sat, 25/06/2016 - 11:16
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