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Pope prepares difficult trip to Armenia, to promote reconciliation with Turkey and Azerbaijan

Pope Francis was hoping to visit both Armenia and Azerbaijan during the same trip, but the on-going dispute between these two countries have prevented him. The most recent armed clash in the Nagorno-Karabakh territory occurred in April. In the end, the Pope will travel to Armenia from June 24-26. He will then travel to Azerbaijan and Georgia in early October. In this upcoming trip, the Pope will try to face the tensions in the Caucasus region, by acknowledging the Armenian Genocide and ease the strained relations between this country and Turkey. From the church in Khor Virap, the Pope will simultaneously witness the enclosed border and the splendor of Mount Ararat. FR. KRIKOR BADICHAH Vice Rector, Pontifical Armenian College "He will go to Khor Virap, which is a very important place for us. Our patron Saint Gregory, who was locked in a well for 13 years. He was miraculously released and baptized by King Tiridates. And so Armenia became the first Christian country.� Krikor Badichah is an Armenian priest from Lebanon. He says that to understand this journey we must remember that Armenia was the first state to adopt Christianity as it's official religion in the fourth century. Also, it is a country with two wounds: the 1915 genocide and communism. Two Christian churches prevail in this country, the Catholic minority and the Armenian Apostolic Church, which is the majority and was born by Christians who did not recognize the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD. Although they are in communion, the Patriarch Karekin II will host the Pope and accompany him throughout the trip. FR. KRIKOR BADICHAH Vice Rector, Pontifical Armenian College "For centuries, the relations have been very good. The Pope's visit shows that the Church of Rome is close to all and confirms that among us there is not only friendship but a deep relationship of faith and respect.� This trip is not the first time Pope Francis shows a great gesture to the Christians of Armenia. In April 2015, he commemorated Genocide victims during a ceremony in St. Peter's, where he also named Armenian Gregory of Narek, as doctor of the Church. JMB/YA AA VM - PR up:YA