EUROPAICA
Bulletin de la Représentation de l'Eglise Orthodoxe Russe
près les Institutions Européennes

N° 59

The Armenian Genocide discussed by the WCC Central Committee

The Moderator of the World Council of Churches Central Committee His
Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia, made the following statement in
his report to the Central Committee on 15 February 2005: 'The acceptance
of truth is the sine qua non condition for forgiveness. Guilt must be
admitted; truth must be told. The acknowledgement of truth in its
totality is the first concrete and hopeful step towards a new beginning.
Healing is generated primarily through truth telling. Allow me in this
regard to remind you of the painful story of my own people. This year my
church and people will commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Armenian
Genocide. During the First World War in 1915, one-and-a-half million
Armenians were massacred by the Ottoman-Turkish government according to
a well-devised and systematically executed plan. Although my generation
did not directly experience the tragic past, the Armenian Genocide has
had a strong impact on our spiritual and intellectual formation. The
past haunts the victims; we cannot free ourselves from the past unless
that past is duly recognized.'

During the plenary discussion of the Moderator's report Bishop Hilarion
of Vienna and Austria, Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to
the European Institutions, said: 'I am grateful to the Moderator for
mentioning the Armenian Genocide, which took place 90 years ago and
resulted with one and a half million victims. The Armenian Genocide is
one of those shameful pages of human history which, for the sake of
political correctness, is very often passed over in silence. I think the
hour has come for the entire international community to recognize the
Armenian Genocide and condemned it in the same way as the Holocaust.'
Bishop Hilarion called the WCC Central Committee to make a special
statement in which the Genocide would be duly recognized. 'We must do
this out of solidarity with the Armenian Church and with the Armenian
people,' concluded the Representative of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Bishop Hilarion's motion was seconded and the issue was forwarded to the
Public Issues Committee for appropriate deliberation and action.

In its statement, prepared by the Public Issues Committee and adopted on
21 February, the World Council of Churches 'addressed the need for
public recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the necessity of Turkey
to deal with this dark part of its history. The importance of Turkey
evaluating its history has recently also been addressed by the
Conference of European Churches relating to Turkey's relation to the
European Union.'

'From the Christian perspective,' continued the statement, 'the path
towards justice and reconciliation requires the recognition of the crime
committed as a sine qua non condition for the healing of memories and
the possibility of forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting but
to look back with the intention to restore justice, the respect for
Human Rights and relationships between perpetrators and victims. The
Public Issues Committee recommends the General Secretary and the staff
to propose to all member churches to make Sunday April 24 a day of
memory of the Armenian Genocide and to consider further appropriate
actions related to the 90 years Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.'