BOSTON, Mass.—In an era of Papal recognition of the Armenian Genocide, others have also taken a quantum leap forward in their quest for justice, including Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley.
For the first time ever inside a formal church setting, an ecumenical commemoration of the Saints and Martyrs gathered religious leaders of all persuasions to Holy Cross Cathedral on the afternoon of Sat., April 23.
A crowd estimated at nearly 1,000 worshipers turned out for the observance as busloads arrived at the scene from throughout the Greater Boston area and North Shore.
Although prayer services commemorating the genocide are nothing new, this marked the first time the Archdiocese of Boston formally took part, marking the 101st anniversary.
Joining the Cardinal were members of the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Armenian churches across the state and New England.
Through his homily, Cardinal O’Malley alluded to the message resounded by Pope Francis during the centennial. It was a year ago when Pope Francis spoke boldly of the suffering of the Armenian people as “Genocide” and as “a true martyrdom of Armenians.”
“Bringing home to Boston what the Holy Father Pope Francis said last year, we wish to acknowledge the specific suffering of so many in the Armenian genocide as a witness of faith—and to underscore the persecution of Christians still going on today,” Cardinal O’Malley confirmed.
“Building on our bond as Christians,” he added, “it is such a grace for us Roman Catholics in the Archdiocese of Boston together with our Armenian brothers and sisters to make this remembrance in common prayer to our Lord.”
The Cardinal spoke with tremendous humility, choosing his words carefully while making repeated eye contact with his congregation.
“It is so important that we do not allow the events of this genocide to slip into oblivion,” he pointed out. “One of the fruits of their martyrdom is the accumulation of love that unites us. No persecution or peril will separate us from God. If the world had responded favorably to the genocide, would there have been a Jewish Holocaust?”
O’Malley lamented over the human suffering which plagues today’s society, especially with ISIS and Al-Qaeda, pointing to the Middle East and events in Syria as downtrodden exercises of civil unrest.
“Unity is a gift and we must conform to it,” he added. “We must never allow the world to vilify our people when prejudice strikes. Our faces are engraved on the palms of God’s hands.”
The haunting sounds of two duduks played by Martin Haroutunian and David Gevorkian set the tone as a combined choir of area Armenian churches led the entrance procession.
Seated in the pews, away from any limelight, was former Boston Mayor and Vatican Ambassador Ray Flynn who, only the previous day, presented a rousing talk at the Statehouse. He was content this day to be simply an ordinary bystander with his young grandson.
Both Armenian Apostolic Archbishops joined together in presenting vibrant messages from the Prelacy and Diocese.
“Our gratitude is extended to Pope Francis and Cardinal O’Malley for bringing to light the subject of Christians being persecuted,” said His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan. “Our martyrs are now our saints and will be remembered for an eternity. Justice and human dignity cannot be ignored. We live through these moments of reconciliation.”
The Primate, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, was equally as sensitized over the service. He had just returned from Rome where he was involved in planning an ecumenical service in Yerevan.
“The Pope’s recognition gave us all the strength to venture forth,” he said. “Victory prevailed over the canonization of our martyrs into sainthood a year ago. It reminds us that these souls are truly universal. Their stories speak to all Christians and all of humanity. Let us all gather strength, courage and wisdom so the world can never forget.”
Anthony Barsamian, co-chairman of the Armenian Assembly of America and president of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, said present-day Turkey must account for its past so they will not repeat the crime of genocide.
Other participants were: Rev. Avedis Boynerian, pastor, Armenian Memorial Church; Verna Khantzian and Rev. Msgr. Andon Atamian, Holy Cross Armenian Catholic Church.
A reception followed in Cathedral High School across the street.
Source: Armenian Weekly Mid-West