Pope Francis will celebrate a special mass for Armenian Catholics in St Peter’s Basilica on April 12, the Vatican announced Tuesday (27/01).
No official motivation was given, but the service will be held in a year marking the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.
Up to 1.5 million Armenians are estimated to have been killed by Turkish Ottoman troops during World War I through massacres and death marches.
The topic is taboo in Turkey, where authorities reject classifying the killings as genocide.
In June 2013, meeting Armenian Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni at the Vatican, Francis referred to the 1915 events as “the first genocide of the 20th century.” His remarks prompted an official complaint from the Turkish government.