Pope Francis in Armenia

Last weekend, Pope Francis made an apostolic journey to Armenia, a small, landlocked country of three million in the South Caucasus, bordering Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. The official motto of his journey was “Visit to the First Christian Nation,” a reference to Armenia’s being the . . . . Continue Reading »

Slighting Syria's Christians

Take a look at the photo below, which appeared recently on Instagram. It’s the photo of a page from the New Testament — Acts 25, which recounts St. Paul’s trial before Festus. The page, seared into a bookshelf, is all that remains of the Bible that once contained it. ISIS recently burned . . . . Continue Reading »

A New Book on the Armenian Genocide

This year, on its hundredth anniversary, the Armenian Genocide of 1915 has received unusually prominent and long overdue attention. New, in-depth treatments have appeared from major presses: Thomas de Waal’s Great Catastrophe (Oxford), Eugene Rogan’s The Fall of the . . . . Continue Reading »

When We Cared

Today, we mark the hundredth anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. On April 24th, 1915, the nationalist Young Turks attempted to wipe out the Armenians, the oldest Christian nation, which adopted Christianity twelve years before the Edict of Milan. On this solemn anniversary, it is worth recalling the great aid European and American Christians and Jews gave the Armenians. This legacy should lead us to not remain silent in the face of today’s extermination of Middle Eastern Christians and fight the politically convenient yet disturbing tendency to deny that what happened in the Ottoman Empire a century ago was genocide.For centuries, the Armenians lived in relative peace in the Ottoman Empire. The Koran’s stance towards non-Christians is inconsistent. At some points, it advocates the persecution of all non-Muslims (kaffirs), but in others it advocates tolerance for Christians and Jews, as they are “peoples of the Book.” The Ottomans applied the latter passages with regards to the followers of Abrahamic religions in its millet system, which gave religious minorities self-rule. Continue Reading »

Confession and the Armenian Genocide

My grandmother often talked about her father’s crucifixion to my mother and my aunt. Today my aunt still vividly remembers her lamenting the atrocities of the Armenian massacres that spread throughout the Ottoman Empire one hundred years ago.The family called my great grandfather Haji Dede. He was a beloved low level cleric of the Armenian Apostolic Church in the village of Tomarza in the Kayseri region of central Turkey. In 1915, the killers came to Tomarza. They put Haji Dede up on some crossbeams, and turned him upside down like Saint Peter. I have no further narrative or details of what else they did to him before he died. Other sources have noted that a pre-killing ritual of men, especially clergy, often involved pulling out their beards. Victims could undergo other barbaric humiliations and tortures, beheading, or be burned alive. The Armenians who neither survived nor were butchered outright, died on death marches. Continue Reading »