Pope Accepts Invitation to Armenia

VATICAN (CWNews.com)–Pope John Paul II has expressed his desire to travel to Armenia. The Pontiff made his ambition clear during a meeting with Catholicos Karekin I–the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Catholicos Karekin is in Rome this week for the opening of an exposition at the Vatican Museum–highlighting the relations between the Holy See and the Armenian people. He issued a personal invitation for the Pope to visit his country–and President Robert Kocharian–who also met with Pope John Paul on March 25–issued a separate invitation.

Pope John Paul told each of his visitors that he planned to make the visit–"if Providence permits me." In a particular message to the Armenian prelate–he expressed his satisfaction with "the progress we have made in our common search for unity in Christ." He observed that the Armenian Apostolic Church will celebrate its 17th centennial in the year 2001–and said that date–along with the Jubilee of 2000–should be seen as an invitation to "common witness to our faith in Jesus Christ."

The Pope also recalled his meeting with Catholicos Karekin in 1996–culminating in a joint expression of faith which eliminated theological difficulties between the Catholic and Armenian churches.

He said that this ecumenical progress should be ratified "wherever Catholic and Armenian faithful live together," by stronger ecumenical contacts and shared initiatives to promote the message of the Gospel.

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