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BRAINTREE -- 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. The cardinal will host and preside at the 4 p.m. prayer service joined by faithful from both communities, ecumenical and interreligious guests, and civic dignitaries.
"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," Cardinal Seán said.
"With Pope Francis' leadership last year and potential visit to Armenia, and with Cardinal Seán'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, Msgr. Andon Atamian. Armenian Protestant leaders are also being invited.
Armenia became the first Christian nation in 301 A.D. Armenians and Catholics have had a very warm and fraternal relationship for centuries, and have been working to restore full communion. In 1915, the Turkish government which at that time 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 date of the prayer service, on April 23, 2015, the Armenian Apostolic Church canonized the 1.5 million as martyrs.
Noting that the celebration manifests the growing unity between Catholics and Armenian Orthodox Christians, founded on their shared history and apostolic faith, Vito Nicastro, associate director of the archdiocese's Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, 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."