Pope Francis Urges Armenian Catholic Bishops To ‘Take Up The Cry For Peace’


By Daniel Payne

Pope Francis on Wednesday urged the bishops of the Armenian Catholic Church to “take up the cry for peace” amid ongoing threats of conflict and religious persecution in the region. 

Armenia and Azerbaijan are engaged in peace talks following Azerbaijan’s violent takeover of the Nagorno-Karabakh region late last year. The region has been a point of contention for years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

All but a few ethnic Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region fled their ancestral homeland following Azerbaijan’s takeover. Human rights leaders last year warned of a possible “religious cleansing” of Armenian Christians during the conflict. 

In his address on Wednesday, Pope Francis urged the Synod of Bishops of the Patriarchal Church of Cilicia of the Armenians to pray for peace amid the conflict. 

“[H]ow can we not finally turn our thoughts to Armenia,” the Holy Father said, “not only in words but above all in our prayers, particularly for all those fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh and for the many displaced families seeking refuge.”

“So many wars, and so much suffering!” the pope said. “The First World War was supposed to be the last; it led to the formation of the League of Nations, the ‘precursor’ of the United Nations, in the belief that this would be sufficient to preserve the gift of peace.” 

“Yet since then, how many conflicts and massacres have we witnessed, always tragic and always pointless,” Francis noted.  

Declaring, “Enough!” the Holy Father urged the bishops to “take up the cry for peace, so that it may touch hearts, even hearts untouched by the sufferings of the poor and lowly.” 

“And above all, let us pray. I pray for you and for Armenia; and I ask you, please, to pray for me!” the pope said.

Pope urges synod to elect ‘the Bishops of tomorrow’

In his speech to the bishops, the pope also urged the leaders to “give your Church the Bishops of tomorrow.” 

“I urge you to choose them carefully, so that they will be devoted to the flock, faithful to pastoral care, and not driven by personal ambition,” the Holy Father said.

He urged that bishops “not be selected on the basis of our own ideas or preferences,” and that “great caution should be used with regard to those with ‘a nose for business’ or those ‘always with a suitcase in hand,’ leaving their people orphaned.”

“Bishops are not bought in the marketplace,” the pope said, stating that “it is Christ who chooses them as successors of his apostles and shepherds of his flock.”

Francis also urged the bishops to attend to “the pastoral care of vocations” in the region. 

Priests, “especially young priests, need to feel close to their Bishops, who will foster their fraternal communion, so that they will not grow discouraged by hardships but rather grow daily in docility to the creativity of the Holy Spirit, serving the people of God with the joy born of charity, not with the unbending and insensitive attitude of bureaucrats,” the pope said. 


The Catholic News Agency (CNA) has been, since 2004, one of the fastest growing Catholic news providers to the English speaking world. The Catholic News Agency takes much of its mission from its sister agency, ACI Prensa, which was founded in Lima, Peru, in 1980 by Fr. Adalbert Marie Mohm (†1986).

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