Armenia: to forgive is divine

By Harry Hagopian
August 30, 2010

Previously, I referred to the horrific genocidal experiences that amputated Armenians from Ottoman Turkish society during WWI and cost the lives of scores of men, women and children - including members of my own family.

However, much as we must commemorate the deaths of our forefathers every 24 April, I would suggest that the genocide would lose some of its moral dimension if we do not also think of life, and look at the deathly sufferings of this chapter as a way of proclaiming life too, of standing in solidarity with other persecuted peoples across our world and of showing forgiveness toward our enemies.

After all, we survived this genocide; did we not, and we did not perish. As St Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians, "O Death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" (1 Cor 15.55).

But here is where I struggle with my faith and wrestle with my weaknesses: how can I forgive those who committed such egregious sins against my people when they constantly deny the truth and refuse with impunity to recognise their crimes? Should exoneration, liberation and eventually redemption not come through a process of recognition?

This is why I ask you to continue praying for me and my people so we could find the strength to overcome our human frailties and follow our Lord and Saviour’s teachings by learning how to open up even to those who harbour evil intent toward us.

Listen to the broadcast version of this at:


© Harry Hagopian is an International lawyer and EU political consultant. He also acts as Middle East advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and as Middle East consultant to ACEP (Christians in Politics) in Paris and is a regular Ekklesia contributor ( Formerly, he was Executive Secretary of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Committee and Executive Director of the Middle East Council of Churches. He is a member of, and adviser to, the Armenian Orthodox Church. Dr Hagopian’s own website is

This is the fourth in a series of reflections ( to mark the 20th anniversary of Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Armenia. These are being broadcast daily on Premier Christian Radio ( and will be archived as podcasts on Ekklesia, with thanks to PCR.

See also: 'Being Armenian yesterday and today' -
'Armenia and the coming of Christianity' -
'Armenia's memory of annihilation' -

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