No: 163, 8 June 2013, Press Release Regarding the Pope’s Statements on the Events of 1915

It is understood that the spiritual leader of the Catholic World, Pope Francis, during an audience on 3 June 2013 of a delegation from the Armenian Catholic Church resident in Lebanon, expressed views reflecting the one-sided opinions of Armenians regarding the 1915 events.

It is known that the Pope, before being elected to his current position, while he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires made statements in support of the Armenians’ views interpreting history from their own perspective.

The final years of the Ottoman Empire were a tragic period for the people that made up the Empire. Turks, Armenians, and many others suffered immensely. This period needs to be understood in its entirety and the memory of so many lives lost has to be properly respected. Such an exercise requires a reliable factual basis. Indeed, for this purpose, Turkey proposed the establishment of a joint commission composed of Turkish and Armenian historians to study the events of 1915, in the archives of Turkey and Armenia and all other relevant archives in the third countries and to share their findings with the international public.

The Armenian view of history, however, selects the Armenian suffering, distorts it in several ways and attempts to present it as a genocide – a crime defined in international law – perpetrated by Turks against Armenians.

While from the legal point of view no competent international court has taken up the events of 1915 and while differing opinions among scholars clearly exist, third parties in authority should not exploit history for political reasons by passing one-sided judgments.

What is expected of the office of the Pope, under the responsibility of the spiritual authority it has been endowed with, is to contribute to world peace instead of bringing out enmity from historical events.

The Apostolic Nuncio in Ankara was invited to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 7 June 2013, to whom it was conveyed that Pope Francis’ expressions were absolutely unacceptable, along with our views and sensitivities regarding genocide allegations, and it was emphasized that the Holy See should refrain from taking steps that may cause harm to our bilateral relations that may be difficult to repair.