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Churches worldwide to commemorate the Armenian genocide on 24 April

15 April 2005

The member churches of the World Council of Churches (WCC) have been invited to make Sunday 24 April a day of memory of the Armenian genocide on its 90th anniversary.

This way of commemorating the tragic massacre of one-and-a-half million Armenians in Turkey and the deportation of another million from their homeland was recommended last February by the Council's central committee, following the report presented by its moderator, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the See of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

In his address, Aram I called the church worldwide to rediscover the comprehensive ministry of healing and reconciliation, at the heart of which there must be truth and justice. With the painful story of his own people as an example, Aram I said: "The past haunts the victims; we cannot free ourselves from the past unless that past is duly recognized."

In its recommendation to commemorate what was the first genocide of the 20th century, the governing body stressed "the need for public recognition of the Armenian genocide and the necessity of Turkey to deal with this dark part of its history".

"I am personally in communion with you in prayers and in solidarity with the cause of your people," wrote the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia in an 11 April letter addressed to the Catholicos of All Armenians, Supreme Patriarch Karekin II.

Kobia also expressed his hope that the "intercessory prayers that the fellowship of churches will offer on Sunday, 24 April, will remind the world of the words of the gospel: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God".

In another letter sent to the Council's member churches on 14 April, the director of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) Mr Peter Weiderud voiced his hope that "services held all over the world on 24 April would encourage churches and Christians to reflect on truth, justice, repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation and healing of society".

The full text of the WCC central committee moderator's report is available at:

www.oikoumene.org/GEN_2_Report_of_the_Moder.731.0.html