"The Pope's visit to Armenia should be considered as the first part of a trip that will take him to three nations in the Caucasus region in 2016. The second leg will take place from September 30th to October 2nd when the Pope will travel to Azerbaijan and Georgia."
This was stated by the Director of the Holy See's Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, when on Tuesday (21 June) he briefed journalists on Pope Francis' 3-day visit to Armenia taking place from 24-26th of June. He said the papal visit underlines the Pope's desire to show his closeness to the entire nation of Armenia, whose people have suffered so much during their long history and who shares their desire for peace, Vatican Radio quoted Father Lombardi as saying.
Armenia has a population of 3.3 million but the diaspora is far larger with up to 10 million people of Armenian descent living outside the country, mainly in Russia and the United States. Just over 9 percent of Armenia's population is Catholic.
Ecumenism is a key focus of the Pope's journey to Armenia that follows a visit to the Vatican in April 2015 by Catholicos, Karekin II, the Patriarch of All Armenia, during which a Mass was celebrated in St Peter's Basilica to commemorate the centenary of the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman troops in 1915.
source: commonspace.eu with Vatican Radio
photo: Vatican City (archive picture).
An official delegation of the European Parliament met Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Monday (18 June) to re-affirm the EU's support for ongoing reforms in the country