Pope Francis will visit Armenian Genocide memorial during his trip to Armenia – the move that will potentially strain relations between the Vatican and Ankara again, Francis Rocca writes in his article in Wall Street Journal.
The author notes that the trip also comes just after a major outbreak of violence in the Caucasus region. The main issue of his trip is whether pontiff will once again describe as genocide the 195 events in the Ottoman Empire.
“The pope has been highly vocal about the persecution of Christians, especially in Muslim-majority countries, and has called on Muslim leaders to denounce the actions of Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq. However, he recently rejected the term genocide for the plight of Christians in the Middle East in favor of the religious term martyrdom,” the article reads.
According to the author, “tensions between Armenia and another neighbor—Azerbaijan—will also hang over the visit.”
Francis Rocca recalls that Pope Francis will visit Khor Virap monastery near the border with Turkey.
“A border visit isn’t on the schedule, but such a gesture would be in character for a pope who likes surprising people. During a visit to the Holy Land in 2014, Pope Francis made an unscheduled stop to pray at the Israeli separation barrier on the West Bank.
If Pope Francis does go to the Turkish border, it will likely prove the visual news highlight of his visit, similar to his stop at the U.S. border during his February 2016 visit to Mexico, when he prayed for migrants who had died trying to cross the Rio Grande,” he says.