No: 110, 12 April 2015, Press Release Regarding the Statements Delivered During the Liturgy in Vatican on April 12, 2015

The statements of Pope Francis and the Armenian representatives delivered during the liturgy held at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican on 12 April 2015 regarding the 1915 events contradict historical and legal facts.

Having underlined his willingness to promote the establishment of peace and friendship among different groups in the world since the day he was elected to the Pontificate, Pope Francis has made today a discrimination between the sufferings by solely emphasizing the sufferings of the Christians and foremost the Armenians. With a selective point of view, he ignored the tragedies that befell on the Turkish and Muslim people who had lost their lives in World War I.

During this Holy Mass, history was instrumentalized for political aims. While overlooking the great sufferings and dark pages in remote geographies far away from Anatolia, and disregarding completely the cruelty of colonialism, only referring to our Christian brothers with whom we lived side by side in Anatolia for centuries, and who have nothing to do with the events of 1915, is unacceptable.

Genocide is a legal concept. Claims not fulfilling the requirements of law, even if they are attempted to be explained on the basis of widespread conviction, are bound to remain as slanders. Pope Francis, in his statement, refers to the tragic events that took place in Bosnia and in Rwanda as “mass killings”, whereas these are recognized as genocides by competent international courts. He, however calls the events of 1915 a “genocide”, despite the absence of any such competent court judgment. This is meaningful. It is not possible to explain this contradiction with the concepts of justice and conscience.

It is regrettable to see that, the statement delivered by Pope Francis in today’s liturgy presents a great deviation from the remarks he has made during and on his return from his visit to Turkey on November 28-30, 2014. In those remarks, the Pope had pointed out that “both sides are in good will" and that "third parties should encourage and pray for the reconciliation of the peoples”.

However, bearing in mind the messages given by the Pope during and after his visit to Turkey, we thought that, in today’s liturgy, a consensus could be reached to pray for mercy, for all those lives lost during the First World War, without making any discrimination whether they were Christians, Muslims or Jews.

Given his statements of today, we understand that Pope Francis is under the influence of the Armenian narrative which persists to derive enmity from history instead of leaving a legacy of friendship and peace to the future generations. We reject this approach.

What we expected from a divine rank as the Holy See is not to give credit to the one-sided interpretations of historical events and to religious discrimination but rather to support peace and joint approaches that will ensure a global language which rejects ethnic and religious discrimination, especially nowadays when our world is facing confrontations, divisions and intolerance.

The President of the Republic of Turkey Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in his historic message dated 23 April 2014, emphasized that “in today’s world, deriving enmity from history and creating new antagonisms are neither acceptable nor useful for building a common future.”

Statements which are controversial in every aspect, based on prejudices, distorting the history and confining the sufferings in Anatolia, amid the conditions of World War I, to a single religious community are declared null and void by the Republic of Turkey and the Turkish nation.

Our views on this matter have been conveyed today to the Ambassador of the Holy See in Ankara who has been summoned to the Ministry. In the meantime, Turkish Ambassador at the Holy See, Mr. Mehmet Paçacı has been called to Turkey for consultations.