October 31, 2007
By NIRAJ WARIKOO
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
The Armenian community's top religious leader said today in Southfield that the U.S. Congress will eventually label as genocide the mass killings of Armenians in the early 20th century.
"We don't know when it will happen, but we have no doubt that one day -- today, tomorrow, at some point -- this will be accepted by the U.S. Congress," His Holiness Karekin II, pontiff of the Armenian Orthodox Church, said through a translator after a luncheon in his honor at St. John Armenian Church in Southfield. "Which country, if not the country that bears the legacy of democratic values," will condemn the genocide.
"Moral values should never be held hostage to political interests," he added.
Karekin is in Detroit this week as part of a national tour of the U.S. He happened to deliver a prayer in Congress last month on the same day that a House committee voted to recognize the Armenian genocide, setting off strong protests from the Turkish government and the Bush administration. The resolution appears to be stalled for now.
During the luncheon, Detroit Cardinal Adam Maida, of the Roman Catholic Church, along with local heads of the Greek and Romanian Orthodox churches, also condemned the genocide.
Karekin said recognizing the Armenian genocide is important not just for Armenians, but for all who suffer because of their background or religion.
"The world suffers today with the trampling of human rights," Karekin said. "It is vital that genocide be condemned."
Karekin also said that the Armenian community in the U.S. is strong despite increasing assimilation.
He said that Armenians who marry outside their ethnicity often have spouses who are very active in the Armenian church and "play a great role in the Armenian community." The non-Armenians are sometimes "even better Armenians than their Armenian spouses," Karekin said.
Contact NIRAJ WARIKOO at firstname.lastname@example.org
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