During the year 2015—the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, a new Pope was elected. Pope Francis was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina on December 17, 1936. His birth name was Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Pope Francis chose his papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi (known for his love of all animals).
Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first non-European pope since Syrian Gregory III in the year 741—some 1,272 years earlier. He is renowned for his Christ-like humility and humbleness witnessed by his actions. Many Christians believe he embodies new hope, new direction, and a new attitude that may truly transform the church and once again inspire millions. He has been expressly pro-active in the following areas of interest: helping the poor, concern for the environment, criticizing the inequality of wealth, and for calling to task those who stand in the way of a better life for future generations.
During April of the year 2015, Pope Francis was the first Pope to publicly use the word genocide (when referring to the Armenian Genocide). Being the first Pope to do so, his holy words were shared with the world. Within days, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayipp Erdogan, began his bullying tactics and suggestive threats by “warning” Pope Francis not to ever use the words Armenian Genocide again. Such a dark warning carries serious historical implications for the following reason. Many older Christians still remember back to May 13th, 1981 when Pope John Paul II was gravely wounded in St. Peter’s Square by Turkish assailant Mehmet Ali Ağca.
Below is a special report taken from the New York Times.
ROME, Thursday, May 14, 1981 -- Pope John Paul II was shot and seriously wounded yesterday as he was standing in an open car moving slowly among more than 10,000 worshipers in St. Peter's Square.
The Italian Police arrested a gunman who was later identified as an escaped Turkish murderer who had previously threatened the Pope's life in the name of Islam.
The Pontiff, who was struck by two pistol bullets and wounded in the abdomen, right arm, and left hand, underwent 5 hours and 25 minutes of surgery in which parts of his intestine were removed.
According to Wikipedia (a long-standing historical research resource for people around the world that is no longer allowed to be read by the Turkish people because of a 2017 order by Erdogan), the Pope was struck four times, and suffered severe blood loss. Ağca was apprehended almost immediately thanks to a brave and alert nun (who tackled the culprit as he fled), the head of Vatican Security, and several courageous people in attendance. Ağca was later sentenced to life in prison by an Italian court.
After Pope John Paul recovered, he visited his would-be assassin, and after sitting with him for more than an hour, forgave Ağca for the assassination attempt. The criminal was pardoned by Italian president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi at the Pope's request and was deported to Turkey in June 2000.
The president of Turkey’s threat reveals Erdogan’s own insecurity and despotic style of leadership. Perhaps the good people of Turkey should “warn” Erdogan not to threaten Pope Francis or anyone else. After all, Turkey’s history of shameful violence also includes the jailing of journalists, teachers, politicians, and soldiers who dared to disagree with Erdogan’s bullying tactics and dictatorial style of leadership. His actions against his own people are more than well documented by a wide array of international sources; it is an open book, and… it… speaks… volumes.
Despite these threats, Pope Francis found the courage to repeatedly speak the truth (even though his handlers warned him not to when he was in Armenia. He used the accurate term much to the delight of his Armenian audience) so honestly that all the world took notice of the Armenian Genocide as well as the continued persecution and killing of Christians today. I can only hope the United States of America and other countries will follow Pope Francis’ example and find the moral strength to stand up to Turkey’s unjustifiable threats of retaliation. Even today, if a person uses the words Armenian Genocide in Turkey, he/she will be jailed immediately.
To this day, no American president has ever used the term Armenian Genocide publicly. The reason may revolve around the fact that we have military bases in Turkey and see Turkey as a valuable ally. Whatever military advantage such a relationship offers America does not condone supporting a leader who attacks peaceful American protestors while visiting our country, or one who jails anyone who disagrees with him, or destroys any semblance of a free press or free speech.
Personally, I believe our country should move our bases to Greece to join the American bases already there. The Greeks have fought with us before; they would not betray us like the Turks have done recently with their military purchases from Russia. Turkey has not embraced the values and actions agreed upon by NATO. Therefore, Turkey should be kicked out of NATO and be recognized for what it is—a dictatorship.