MEXICO CITY – Karekin II, the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, expressed sympathy and support for earthquake victims during his ecumenical visit to Mexico.
“On behalf of our people, we have come to express their solidarity and condolences to the people of Mexico,” the Catholics of All Armenians told descendants of the Armenian diaspora of the early 20th century.
Speaking at Mexico City’s Memory and Tolerance Museum on Monday, Karekin II said he hoped and was confident that Mexicans “will overcome all catastrophes,” referring to the Sept. 7 and Sept. 19 earthquakes that killed at least 471 people.
During his first visit to Mexico, Karekin II said he appreciated the opportunity to meet with descendants of Armenians who survived the massacre of 1.5 million people committed by the Ottoman Turkish Empire.
“This museum teaches about our people’s trials, and the Armenian genocide is represented,” Karekin II said, adding that teaching about history was the best way to prevent genocides from happening again.
As a token of his gratitude, the Armenian religious leader gave the museum a small silver cross, while the 3,000-strong Armenian community gave him an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Jose Sarukhan, a former president of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), said Karekin’s visit “marks an exceptional date” for Mexico and descendants of the Armenian diaspora.
Sarukhan, whose parents were Armenian, noted the role that Karekin II played when his homeland was hit by an earthquake that killed at least 25,000 people in 1988.
Karekin II also visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the largest Catholic church in Mexico, and met with Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera and members of the diplomatic corps.