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Pope travels to Georgia to bring peace to the Caucasus region

2016-09-29


Georgia is a country with an Orthodox majority, and 112,000 Catholics, 2.5 percent of the total. It was in this country that Christianity was combated during the Soviet era. In 1917, they had 2,455 churches and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, only 80.

It is here the pope will travel, in hopes of reducing tensions between two separatist regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which only Russia recognizes as independent.

VALENTINA VARTUI KARAKHANIAN
Investigator, Vatican Secret Archives
"The pope proposes revaluing their Christian roots, which have kept alive our identity in the Caucasus region, bathed in the blood of the martyrs."

Valentina Karakhanian is perhaps the only Georgian who works at the Vatican. She will follow every move of the trip from Rome, Italy. Since she knows her country, she advised others to pay close attention to the pope's meeting with Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II.

VALENTINA VARTUI KARAKHANIAN
Investigator, Vatican Secret Archives
"The mere fact that Patriarch Ilia, who also welcomed John Paul II, is now there to welcome Pope Francis already means a lot. People need to see these gestures as the closeness between their religious leaders."

Although Patriarch Ilia worked hard for dialogue amongst Christians, he was forced to abandon his progress when a faction in his church threatened a schism.

The pope will spend two nights in Georgia, will celebrate a crowded Mass and meet with the Assyrian-Chaldean minority community, which has ties to Syria and Iraq.  From there, he will travel to Azerbaijan on Sunday morning.


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