Speaking for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Turkey, Rinaldo Marmara denied statements attributed to him by Turkish media about the existence of documents purportedly held by the Vatican Archives that the origin of the 1915 Armenian genocide arose from "problems" within the Armenian community itself. Last week, the Turkish press reported that the University of Bahcesehir will seek to examine documents supposedly in the Vatican Archives.
The Turkish daily, Vatan, in a December 11 report said that Marmara will lead research at the Vatican Archives. Moreover, the report attributed to Marmara that there are some one million documents and secret correspondence relating to the Ottoman Empire and Turkey kept in the Vatican Secret Archives, and among them are documents concerning the "events of 1915 experienced by the Armenians" which would show that the widely condemned genocide of Armenians and other Christians "began because of Armenian problems."
As reported by Vatan, Marmara supposedly revealed that the Vatican Archives has "some documents on the Aegean accidents, which prove the responsibility of the Greeks and the innocence of the Turks." The statements attributed to Marmara have aroused strong condemnations on the part of local Christian communities, especially from the Armenian community. Marmara issued a statement, reported by the Fides news agency, denouncing as libelous the statements attributed to him. Marmara said in his statement, the press had knowingly used "phrases extracted by journalists to search for provocation." He said that "such a delicate and sensitive matter as the Armenian issue need to be addressed only starting from the documents of the archives" rather than fabrications manipulations by the Turkish press.
Marmara said in his statement, "The Secret Archives of the Vatican contain hundreds of thousands of documents on the history of Turkey. There are of course also some on the Armenian issue - some books have already been published in Europe on this issue from these Archives - but these documents are not yet fully classified. These Archives are accessible to all researchers and I am not responsible for the research that is conducted. I just point out the relevance of these archives. The digitization of the Archives has already begun and some of them are already available online."
Marmara went on to stress that the Armenian issue is not the specific area of his historical research. "My field of research concerns only the Latin Catholic Church and its community. I beg you not to judge me with carelessness. I am responsible only for my writings and phrases extrapolated that are attributed to me." Rinaldo Marmara, 63, is a native of Istanbul and currently holds the position of President of Caritas Turkey, besides his role as spokesman for the Catholic bishops. He is the author of numerous essays on the history of the Latin Catholic community in Istanbul.
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.