Pope Francis Reflects on Georgian, Azerbaijan Visit

Pope Francis and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev shake hands during their meeting with local authorities in Baku on Oct. 2, 2016 (Photo: Sergei Grits/Associated Press)
Pope Francis and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev shake hands during their meeting with local authorities in Baku on Oct. 2, 2016 (Photo: Sergei Grits/Associated Press)

Pope Francis and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev shake hands during their meeting with local authorities in Baku on Oct. 2, 2016 (Photo: Sergei Grits/Associated Press)

VATICAN CITY (Vatican Radio)—Pope Francis on Wednesday reflected on his just ended apostolic visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan and spoke about the importance of Christian Unity and dialogue.

Speaking to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the General Audience, the Pope expressed his gratitude for having been able visit the neighboring Caucasian countries, both of which are celebrating 25 years of independence having been part of the Soviet Union for much of the 20th century.

He described the visit as complementary to his visit to Armenia last June and said that by visiting all three nations of the Caucasus which are facing many challenges, he was able to confirm the Catholic communities there and encourage all people in their journey towards peace and fraternity.

“True mission – he pointed out – is never proselytism, but attraction towards Christ, unity in prayer, in adoration and in works of charity.”

In Georgia – he said – our cooperation is naturally with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, and so – the Pope continued – “Patriarch Ilia’s presence at the airport upon my arrival was a very important sign.”

Christian unity, the Pope said, is seen in the blood of so many Christian martyrs of different Christian confessions, especially the Assyrian-Chaldean, “with whom we prayed for peace in Syria, Iraq and the whole Middle East.”

The Pontiff explained that even though Azerbaijan is a primarily Muslim country, he was able to participate in an interreligious meeting as well as celebrating Mass with the small Catholic community and encourage it to deepen its encounter and dialogue with all who believe in God in order to build a more just and fraternal world.

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