YEREVAN (Arka) — Armenia will officially ask Pope Francis’ permission to study the Vatican archives on the Armenian Genocide in 1915, the director of the National Archives of Armenia Amatuni Virabyan said today. The head of the Roman Catholic Church will be visiting Armenia on June 24-26.
Speaking at a news conference Virabyan said although the Vatican had opened part of its archives relating to the Armenian genocide, there are many secret documents kept there, which may contain a lot of information about the events of 1915 in Ottoman Empire.
“Vatican Secret Archives are considered one of the largest in the world, they contain a great number of documents on countries and nations that Vatican contacted with. Armenian people had contacts with Vatican since 3rd, 4th centuries, and these Archives keep plenty of documents on our history, which have not been revealed or published,” Virabyan told the journalists.
According to him, although the fact of the Armenian Genocide is confirmed by documents in Armenian, German, Austrian, British and other archives, the disclosure of the Vatican secret archives will become an additional proof of the tragic events of that time.
He said unlike Armenian genocide-related documents kept in some countries’ archives which can be called biased – as some of these countries were rivals during World War I, the Vatican archives will become impartial evidence of persecution of Christian Armenian people in the Ottoman Empire, of which representatives of the Vatican would report to the Pope at that time.
“During the visit of the Pope, we plan to raise this issue and ask for his permission to have access to the secret and hitherto unpublished archives. I think that after the famous liturgy in April 2015 conducted by the Pope in memory of the 1915 genocide victims he would not refuse such a request,” Virabyan said.
Speaking about the already published archives Virabyan said that Armenian specialists are faced with certain difficulties in their translation, since most of the documents are not only in French, which can be easily translated, but also in Latin and the Ottoman Turkish language. The latter has become archaic now and there are actually no specialists in it in Armenia.
In 2015 the Capitol Museum exhibited about 100 secret documents, including testimonies about the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey. The testimonials, explained the prefect of the Secret Archives, Monsignor Sergio Pagano, describe “in detail” the “procedures of torture that the Turks used towards the Armenians.” For example, he said, there is evidence of how the soldiers of the Sublime Porte would bet “on the sex of fetuses in the wombs of pregnant women before they quartered them and with the same knife killed the babies”. These episodes, said the Vatican archivist, “make me ashamed to be a man, and if it were not for faith, I would see only darkness”.