World

Will he or won't he? Attention at pope's Armenian Mass on whether he says 'genocide'

  • Pope Francis leaves at the end of his weekly general audience, in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican,  Wednesday, April 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

    Pope Francis leaves at the end of his weekly general audience, in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, April 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Feb. 22, 2008 file photo released by the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano newspaper, Pope Benedict XVI, left foreground, is seen during a ceremony with Armenian Catholic patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, at right in black, for St. Gregory "the Illuminator" at  the Vatican. Pope Francis on Sunday, April 12, 2015 will declare the little-known 10th-century Armenian mystic St Gregory a doctor of the church, one of the highest honors a pope can bestow during a mass concelebrated with the patriarch. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, HO)

    In this Feb. 22, 2008 file photo released by the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano newspaper, Pope Benedict XVI, left foreground, is seen during a ceremony with Armenian Catholic patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, at right in black, for St. Gregory "the Illuminator" at the Vatican. Pope Francis on Sunday, April 12, 2015 will declare the little-known 10th-century Armenian mystic St Gregory a doctor of the church, one of the highest honors a pope can bestow during a mass concelebrated with the patriarch. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, HO)  (The Associated Press)

Pope Francis on Sunday will declare a 10th-century Armenian mystic a doctor of the church, one of the highest honors a pope can bestow. More attention, though, is likely to be on whether he utters the word "genocide" during his homily.

Francis is marking the 100th anniversary of the slaughter of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire by celebrating a Mass in the Armenian Catholic rite in St. Peter's Basilica.

It's a big deal for the Armenians, who have been campaigning for greater recognition that the slaughter constituted a genocide. It's also a big deal for Turkey, which has long denied that the deaths constituted genocide, insisted that the toll has been inflated, and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.