Argentina’s Armenian community has welcomed the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as new Pope. The community members have stated that Archbishop Bergoglio has always been in friendly ties with them and participated in different events dedicated to the Armenian Genocide and served a liturgy in memory of Genocide victims during the visit of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.
Seven years ago the archbishop publicly demanded that Turkey admit the Ottoman-era Genocide of Armenians.
The Vatican used the term genocide to describe the massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in an official communiqué in 2000, under Pope John Paul II.
Bergoglio was elected Pope in a surprise choice on Wednesday, taking the name Francis I and becoming the first non-European pontiff in nearly 1,300 years.
President Serzh Sarkisian and Catholicos Karekin II on Thursday congratulated the new Pope Francis I on being elected as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, expressing hope that its links with Armenia will strengthen during his pontificate.
“We pray that the Lord will grant to Your Holiness a most fruitful pontificate blessed with many ever-lasting accomplishments for the glory of God and the splendor of the Church of Christ,” the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church wrote in his letter.
Karekin II “fondly” recalled his meetings and joint prayers with Bergoglio during a 2004 visit to Argentina, saying that he got to know “a courageous, wise, and just Church Leader.” “ We are happy to avow Your sincere love and affection shown towards the Armenian people,” he said.
Karekin II also said he hopes Francis will build on “significant progress” in relations between the Armenian and Catholic Churches. “It is our prayer that our cooperative efforts will continue to grow into the future and that the relations between our two sister Churches will blossom with new achievements for the sake of meeting the challenges facing humanity,” he wrote.
In a separate message, Sarkisian expressed confidence that Pope Francis will spread his “merciful influence” all over the world. He said the Armenian government expects that its “fruitful cooperation” with the Vatican “will continue deepening and developing in the same spirit.”