VATICAN CITY, April 12 (UPI) -- On the 100-year anniversary, Pope Francis has called the mass killing of Armenians in what is now Turkey a "genocide."
"In the past century, our human family has lived through three massive and unprecedented tragedies," the Pope said at a Mass at St. Peter's Basilica. "The first, which is widely considered 'the first genocide of the twentieth century,' struck your own Armenian people," he said. The pope was quoting a declaration made by Pope John Paul II and the head of the Armenian church.
Starting in 1915 and ending in the 1920s, the Ottoman Empire deported and killed much of its Armenian population. It is estimated roughly 1.5 million Armenians died as a result.
The statement upset the Turkish government, which immediately pulled its ambassador from the Vatican.
Turkey's foreign minister tweeted the remarks were based on "unfounded allegations."