Turkey angry at Pope comments on massacre of Armenians as 'first genocide of the 20th century'

Pope Francis embraces Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II during a mass. Credit: Reuters

Pope Francis described the massacre of as many as 1.5 million Armenians as "the first genocide of the 20th century" at a 100th anniversary Mass, prompting Turkey to summon the Vatican's Ankara envoy.

The Holy See's ambassador has been summoned by Turkish authorities to express their unease over the comments.

It is the first time a pope has publicly pronounced the massacre as a "genocide".

Turkey has long refused to call the event a genocide and has insisted that the toll has been inflated, and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.

At the start of the Armenian rite Mass in the Vatican, Pope Francis described the mass killing as "the first genocide of the 20th century", which was followed by "Nazism and Stalinism".

Pope Francis also urged for reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia, and between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Caucasus mountain region Nagorno-Karabakh.