As Armenia prepares for the visit of Pope Francis this weekend, the Vatican newspaper, Osservatore Romano said that the Pope will be welcomed in the South Caucasus country not simply as a distinguished guest, but with open arms as a friend and a brother. The newspaper was quoting an interview that its journalist Maurizio Fontana had with the head of international relations of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Archbishop Nathan Hovhanissian, in the Apostolic Palace in Echmiadzin.
Archbishop Hovhanissian told the Osservatore Romano that the visit was for Armenia a historic occasion: enabling the country to thank the Pope for the courage he showed when whilst celebrating Holy Mass in St Peter's Square on 12 April 2015, on the occasion of the centenary of Metz Yeghern, he had reminded the whole world of the persecution, the tragedy and the horrors experienced by the Armenian people in the previous century. The visit will also provide "new opportunities for co-operation between the churches and to re-enforce Christianity", Archbishop Hovhanissian added.
Osservatore Romano also reported that the Pope will also be visiting the city of Gyumri where most of the Armenian Roman Catholics are located, and where the Catholic Church runs a number of charitable institutions.
Editorial Note: Commonspace.eu will be running a live blog covering the Pope's visit to Armenia starting on Friday at 12.00 Armenian local time (0800 GMT) until Sunday evening.
source: commonspace.eu with Osservatore Romano, Vatican City
Photo: The Cathedral of Etchmiadzin outside Yerevan, seat of the Armenian Apostolic Church, where Pope Francis will stay during his visit to Armenia 24-26 June 2016.
"All those who have been detained while exercising their fundamental right of assembly in accordance with the law must be released immediately", said a statement issued in Brussels by the European Union