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Pope mourns Armenia's lost generation

Pope John Paul II has paid a moving tribute to the 1.5 million Armenians killed in the early 20th century, but stopped short of using the word genocide to describe what happened.

"Listen, O Lord, to the lament that rises from this place, to the call of the dead from the depths of the metz yeghern," he said.

The entire prayer was in English except for metz yeghern, which means great crime or great evil in Armenian.

He was speaking at a prayer service on a hillside overlooking the Armenian capital, Yerevan, at the site of the Tzitzernagaberd memorial monument, a towering granite needle flanked by an eternal flame.

For more than 75 years the Armenians have used metz yeghern to refer to what they say was genocide, a word coined during the second world war in response to the Holocaust.

In his prayer he recalled that one of his predecessors, Benedict XV, raised his voice in defence of "the sorely afflicted Armenian people brought to the brink of annihilation".

John Paul added: "We are appalled by the terrible violence done to the Armenian people, and dismayed that the world still knows such inhumanity."

He laid a flower by the eternal flame.

Guardian (London)