Papal Trip Depends On Catholicos Health

YEREVAN (Reuters)–Doctors will decide over the next few days whether the poor health His Holiness Karekin I–Catholicos of All Armenia’s will allow Pope John Paul to visit the country next month–President Robert Kocharian said on Friday.

Karekin I is suffering from cancer–and church officials say he cannot carry out difficult physical tasks.

"I visited the Catholicos today," Kocharian told Reuters in an interview. "The state of his health is really not good. I assume that over the next two or three days corresponding talks will take place with the Vatican. Everything will depend on the conclusions of the doctors and their recommendations."

Pope John Paul–who is 79 and himself sometimes in poor health–was due to make a three-day visit to Armenia from July 2-4. The trip included numerous joint activities with Karekin I.

The Armenian Church issued a statement on Friday saying the recovery of the Catholicos–born in 1932–was going more slowly than expected. It asked Armenia’s to pray from him.

The Pope’s visit was due to coincide with 1,700th anniversary celebrations of the acceptance of Christianity by Armenian King Trdat III in 301–12 years before Rome. Commemorations began in 1997 and will run until 2001.

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