World

Pope calls Armenian slaughter by Ottomans 'first genocide of the 20th century'

  • Pope Francis arrives to celebrates an Armenian-Rite Mass on the occasion of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican Sunday, April 12, 2015. Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by genocide scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey however denies that the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated, and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    Pope Francis arrives to celebrates an Armenian-Rite Mass on the occasion of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican Sunday, April 12, 2015. Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by genocide scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey however denies that the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated, and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis arrives to celebrates an Armenian-Rite Mass on the occasion of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican Sunday, April 12, 2015. Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by genocide scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey however denies that the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated, and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    Pope Francis arrives to celebrates an Armenian-Rite Mass on the occasion of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican Sunday, April 12, 2015. Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by genocide scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey however denies that the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated, and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis arrives to celebrates an Armenian-Rite Mass on the occasion of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, April 12, 2015. Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by genocide scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey however denies that the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated, and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    Pope Francis arrives to celebrates an Armenian-Rite Mass on the occasion of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, April 12, 2015. Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by genocide scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey however denies that the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated, and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)  (The Associated Press)

Pope Francis has called the slaughter of Armenians 100 years ago by the Ottoman Empire "the first genocide of the 20th century."

The pronouncement will certainly anger Turkey, which has long denied the deaths constituted a genocide.

Francis made the pronouncement at the start of a Mass Sunday in the Armenian Catholic rite in St. Peter's Basilica honoring the centenary.