Here is a post I published in April last year, just after the Holy Father had hosted an 'Armenian' Liturgy in Rome and had referred to the Armenian Genocide. I reproduce it here because, according to Chiesa, the Pope has just decided to stop using the word Genocide, out of fear of the Turkish authorities. Is the Chiesa report accurate? If not, justice towards the Roman Pontiff demands that this be known. UPDATE I gather that the Holy father has spoken with his previous Parrhesia.
The Holy Father's decision to validate with his authority the memory of the Armenian Church and People, despite knowing the rage this would stir up, is heroic. Perhaps it is a new kind of Papal Parrhesia. Pius XII has been unfairly criticised because, although he very clearly condemned the murder of people by reason of their race, and did what he could in Rome to save large numbers of Jews, he did not speak with undiplomatic clarity about who exactly was doing exactly what to precisely whom. Francis has. His action may have repercussions on Catholics in Turkey; I think I recall that S Edith Stein was arrested by the Germans when they decided to collect and exterminate the Dutch baptised Jews after the Dutch episcopate had issued an unambiguous Pastoral Letter condemning the rounding up and deportation of the Dutch unbaptised Jews. And so now, it may be some time before the Holy See, or Turkish Catholics, are in a position to ask a favour of the Turkish government. But if Francis has decided that Parrhesia is more important than Diplomacy, I think his judgement is to be respected. It certainly fits my own feelings.
And his action negates the spirit of the Ostpolitik of an earlier pontificate: delicate and deferential treatment of unfriendly regimes in the hope of securing concessions. Not that modern Turkey is an enemy to Christianity in anything remotely like the way that the Stalinist puppet regimes in Europe were; but it remains true that there is something seedy about refraining from speaking the truth out of prudence. What advantage did we ever gain from being so careful in what we said about the Katyn massacre?
This is a time when atrocities very much like the Armenian Genocide are again happening in the Middle East. It is a time when Western 'Enlightenment' governments are shy with regard to talking about the extermination of Christians, even when it is Christian who are being exterminated. The mobs who roamed through Paris chanting Je suis Charlie have not been moved by the most horrendous videos to march with the cry Je suis Chretien or Je suis Copte. There was a time when the Yazidis were being destroyed ... and journalists very properly reported those horrors with explicit naming of names. The shameful and cowardly mass murder by jihadis of Shia prisoners of war is properly reported. Those same journalists, however, having spent their professional lives deriding and attacking Christianity, feel very reticent about headlining with equal explicitness the fate of the Middle Eastern Christian communities. The Holy Father's frankness is a splendid rebuff to this whole, sick, 'liberal' mentality of airbrushing the Christ word out of the News. It gives a new meaning to the phrase 'Pope Frank'!
Moreover, it shows the Pope as the Father of the entire Christian world, and his Church of Rome as the Mother Church of all the Particular Churches. As well as the hierarchies of the Armenian Christian Communions, the President of Armenia was there. The proclamation of S Gregory of Narek as Universalis Ecclesiae Doctor highlights, in a particular way, the solidarity between the whole Catholic world of Particular Churches in Communion with S Peter, and those other bodies which, having preserved Hierarchy and Sacraments, are true, but wounded, Particular Churches in which the Universal Church is herself manifested (Communionis notio 17).
I think, for the first time in this pontificate, I felt my spirits rise and had a real sense of pride in the present Pope!
Viva il Papa!
RITUAL FOOTNOTE: I thought the liturgy was appropriate. The use of the Third Eucharistic Prayer, with its Orientalising elements, reminded me of Aidan Nichols' valuable suggestion that the Novus Ordo should be renamed as the Ritus Communis. It is not, indeed, authentically the Roman Rite but, as Fr Aidan suggests, could function as a common rite for use among Christians of different rites and traditions. On Sunday, it very fittingly had Armenian elements, particularly musical, worked into it; the Gospel Procession, with two clerics walking backwards in front of the Gospel Book so as continually to cense it, was very memorable (did I hear one of the deacons chant Proskhomen before the Gospel?). On such an occasion as last Sunday, this Ritus Communis might even, surely, include an actual Eucharistic Prayer from an Eastern Rite. The formal proclamation of the status of S Gregory was in Latin, reminding us that enactments which bind all Catholics need to be shown as such by being in the Language of the Church.