Syrian-Catholic Patriarch Mar Ignace Youssef III opened commemorations to mark the centenary of the Assyrian Genocide, presiding in the evening of Saturday 21 February a liturgical celebration at Our Lady of the Annunciation Cathedral in Beirut.
The 'Assyrian genocide' refers to the deportation and physical elimination of Christians belonging to Assyrian, Chaldean and Syriac communities in Ottoman territory at the hands of the Young Turks government.
Participants at the Mass included Maronite Patriarch Boutros Bechara Rai, Greek-Melkite Patriarch Grégoire III and Syrian-Orthodox Patriarch Ignace Aphrem II, with the apostolic nuncio Archbishop Gabriele Caccia. Also present a large delegation of representatives of Lebanon's various political groups.
In his homily, Patriarch Ignace Youssef recalled the victims of the genocide one hundred years ago, stressing that the descendants of the innocent victims never sought revenge for the violence suffered by their fathers, and he likened the historical memory of those events with the present day sufferings experienced by many Christian communities in the Middle East, the Patriarch also highlighted the responsibility of "regional and international systems" which fomented this violence, supplying weapons and logistic resources to jihadist militia and terrorist groups.
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