Remarks of The Primate on the Occasion of Genocide Remembrance Ecumenical Service

Christ the Saviour Church

Ealing, April 13th

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Today is Lazarus’s Saturday. Our Churches are preparing to celebrate Palm Sunday tomorrow, the spiritual doorway leading us to the Passion Week. We will relive the final days of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in earthly Jerusalem, through sacred rituals, prayers and spiritual reflection.

Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem as a king but he is nailed on the cross. The very people who hail him as king do not hesitate to demand his crucifixion. “Father, forgive them,” said Jesus on the cross, “for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Another time, when Jesus was teaching His disciples about his suffering, he said: “The disciple is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master” (Mt 10:34).

Indeed, throughout the history of Christianity, the disciples and followers of Christ drank from the same cup of suffering and were baptised with the same Baptism. Countless Christians have gone through this path, as did the martyrs of the state-planned Genocide of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I.  More than 1.5 million innocent people lost their lives; Western Armenia lost its Armenian population, a rich cultural heritage and civilisation was lost in the lands where Armenians had lived for thousands of years. They were cleansed simply because they were Armenian Christians. They died for their faith in Christ.

Today, we are gathered to remember our martyrs and victims of all genocides. We ask for the intercession of the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide and pray for peace and reconciliation among peoples.

I ask myself:  am I ready to forgive? What should my response be as a Christian? As a descendant of the survivors of the genocide, as a Christian, do I forgive the descendants of the perpetrators.  We know that forgiveness is only the doorway for reconciliation.  Jesus forgave the sinners and led them through a process healing and reconciliation with God, he restored the relationship between God and humanity by eliminating the main cause of the rift: sin and death. There can not be true reconciliation and peace without recognition and reparation.

For over a century now, the Turkish government continues to deny what the world has recognised as a crime against humanity. All states and peoples around the world, but especially the British Government, have the duty and moral obligation to recognise, what Prime Minister David Lloyd George referred to in his Memoirs (1939) as the Armenian  “holocausts of 1915”.

We are grateful to the Right Reverend Bishop Peter of Willesden and the Rev. Father Richard Collins for hosting this ecumenical vesper service and for joining us in prayer, as well as the Church wardens of the Christ the Saviour Church in Ealing for their kind hospitality. And to you all for being with us in prayer and fellowship.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.