On this day, 24 April 2015, the Order of Saint Mary the Virgin of the Confession of Augsburg commemorates the memory of the 1,500,000 Armenians killed by order of the Turkish government. There had been, of course, in the long and lamentable course of human history many wars, massacres, and deportations; but nothing equaled the studied cruelty and devilish ferocity of the Turkish attack on the Armenian people, on Armenian Christianity, and on Armenian culture and civilisation. The Armenian Genocide along with the Jewish Holocaust of World War II are the greatest crimes against humanity in all history: the victims must always be remembered and denial of the crime and any and all negationism must be strongly fought.

The ferocity of the Genocide remains even after 100 years absolutely mind-boggling. The Turkish government had proclaimed a jihad and was determined to exterminate the Armenian people solely because they professed the Christian faith. Whole populations were uprooted from their ancestral homes, Armenian men were killed forthwith, the women and children deported into the deserts; many children were thrown into fires and burned alive. The attack on Armenian cultural artifacts was equally fierce. Destruction of churches, of icons and paintings, of ancient manuscripts. Even the cemeteries were desecrated in order not only to kill an entire living population, but also to remove any trace of their presence, to destroy their culture and patrimony, to eradicate their very memory from human consciousness.

Successive Turkish governments have steadfastly refused to acknowledge the guilt of their country in the Genocide. Even today, Turkey, with all its power, threatens the very existence of the tiny Republic of Armenia by its hostility. Turkey started the destruction of cultural artifacts, of art work centuries old; this cultural genocide is being carried out today in Syria and Iraq and other Near Eastern countries by the contemporary Islamist terrorists.

The Order of Saint Mary the Virgin honours the memory of the martyrs of the Genocide and stands in total solidarity with the Armenian people, with the Armenian Church, with the Armenian nation, and with all Armenian artists, who in often difficult circumstances are trying to renew the wonderful cultural tradition of the ancient Armenian nation. We give thanks for the example of this courageous people, we pray for the strenghtening of its cultural output rooted as it is in our holy Christian faith.

+Bishop H.W. Michael TAJRA, osmv.