GYUMRI (Vatican Radio)—The head of the Catholic Church in Armenia, Archbishop Raphael Minassian, said Pope Francis’ recent visit to the country has helped to strengthen and confirm people in their faith. The Pope visited the Armenian capital Yerevan, the northern city of Gyumri and the ancient monastery of Khor Virap on the Turkish border from June 24th to 26th. He will return to the region for a visit to Azerbaijan and Georgia at the end of September.
Archbishop Minassian was among those accompanying the Pope during his stay in Armenia and who was responsible for the Armenian Catholic Church throughout the Eastern European region.
The Archbishop said there has been a visible result “in the soul of the people” who heard the Pope’s message during the Mass at Gyumri and it resounded deeply within them. The heart of that message, he said, was the simplicity, spirituality and modest style that the Pope showed in his approach to all people in Armenia.
Archbishop Minassian said people have already reacted by visiting churches more frequently and contacting their clergy. He recalled the profound silence of the 30,000 people attending the Mass who were “hypnotized” by the Pope’s presence and atmosphere of prayer.
He said that of all the places in the world where he has served in his 43 years of priestly ministry, it is in the Caucuses region where people of all ages are most strongly attached to their Christian faith.
Asked about his hopes for the Pope’s visit to Azerbaijan and Georgia, Archbishop Minassian spoke of the Holy Father’s “magic” way of reaching out to people but he added that all Christians have an obligation to be messengers of peace like him.