March 16, 2016 - A Prayer Service for the Armenian Community

An Ecumenical Commemoration of the Saints and Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide Remembrance, Witness and Resurrection   

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley will lead the first ever Archdiocese of Boston commemoration of the Armenian Genocide at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on April 23, 2016.  The Cardinal will host and preside at a 4 p.m. prayer service.  A large number of faithful from both communities will be joined by ecumenical and interreligious guests and civic dignitaries. 

Cardinal Seán said, “At last year’s commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, Pope Francis made clear that the Church acknowledges the suffering of so many who lost their lives in witness to their faith and that, tragically, such witness continues through the persecution of Christians taking place throughout the world today.  Building on our bond as Christians, the Archdiocese of Boston joins with our Armenian brothers and sisters to make this remembrance in common prayer to our Lord.” 

“With Pope Francis’ leadership last year and potential visit to Armenia, and with Cardinal Sean’s desire to continue building bridges of Christian unity, Catholics and Armenians are standing together more strongly than ever.  The vitality and fidelity of the Armenian community which will be expressed April 23 is a demonstration of the victory of good over evil,” said Fathers Antranig Baljian and Arakel Aljalian of the local Armenian community. 

Joining in the commemoration will be His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian of The Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America and His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan from The Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church. They serve as the two Armenian Orthodox leaders in the Eastern United States.   His Excellency Bishop Mikael Mouradian, who leads the Armenian Catholic Eparchy of the United States and Canada, will be represented by his vicar general, Monsignor Andon Atamian.  Armenian Protestant leaders are also being invited. 

Noting that the celebration manifests the growing unity between Catholics and Armenian Orthodox Christians, founded on their shared history and apostolic faith, Vito Nicastro, Ph.D., Associate Director of the Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Archdiocese of Boston, said, “The themes of the commemoration are remembrance, witness and resurrection.”  He added that the event “shows the solidarity among all Christians. It invites all people of good will to recognize and stand against the evil of genocide, and to promote human rights in the face of ongoing persecution and injustice today.” 

Last April Pope Francis spoke boldly of the suffering of the Armenian people as a “Genocide;” and as “...a true martyrdom of your people...” He said, “concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it.” He also underscored the cumulative destruction of Christian communities and murder of Christians happening today in many places around the globe.  The Archdiocese of Boston together with the Armenian community echo this call for justice with this event on April 23. 

Armenia became the first Christian nation in 301 A.D. Armenians and Roman Catholics have had a very warm and brotherly relationship for centuries, and have been working to restore full communion. In 1915, the Turkish government which ruled over Armenia attempted to exterminate the Armenians in a slaughter for which the word “genocide” was later coined.  Turkish military and their agents murdered approximately 1.5 million Armenians, as well as other Christians such as Assyrians and Greeks.  Exactly one year before the Prayer Service, on April 23, 2015, the Armenian Apostolic Church canonized the 1.5 million as martyrs.