The Vatican Press Office has released the detailed and definitive programme of Pope Francis' apostolic trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan, to take place from 30 September to 2 October.
The Pope will leave from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 9 a.m., and is scheduled to arrive at Tbilisi international airport at 3 p.m., where the welcome ceremony will be held. Following a courtesy visit to the president of the Republic in the presidential palace, and an encounter with the civil authorities and diplomatic corps in the courtyard, the Holy Father will meet with His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II, Catholicos and Patriarch of all Georgia, in the Palace of the Patriarchate. His first day in Georgia will conclude with a meeting with the Assyrian-Chaldean community in the Chaldean Catholic Church of St. Shemon Bar Sabbae.
On Saturday, 1 October, the Pope will celebrate holy Mass in the M. Meskhi stadium, followed by a meeting with priests and men and women religious in the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin. He will then meet with the Church's charity workers and those they assist outside the Camillian aid centre, followed by a visit to the Svetitskhoveli Patriarchal Cathedral of Mskheta.
In the morning of Sunday, 2 October, after the farewell ceremony at the airport in Tbilisi, the Holy Father will depart by air for Baku, Azerbaijan, where he will receive an official welcome at the Heydar Aliyev international airport. He will then transfer to the Church of the Immaculate Conception at the Salesian centre in Baku, where he will celebrate Holy Mass. After lunch with the Salesian community, he will attend the protocol welcome ceremony in the presidential palace of Ganjlik, and pay a courtesy visit to the president of the Republic, followed by a visit to the monument to the victims of independence. In the afternoon he will meet with the authorities in the Heydar Aliyev Centre, to be followed by a private meeting with the Sheikh of the Muslims of the Caucasus in the Heydar Aliyev Mosque, and an interreligious encounter with the representatives of the country's other religious communities. At 7.15 p.m., after the farewell ceremony, the Pope will depart by air for Rome's Ciampino airport, where he is expected to arrive at 10 p.m.
The Pope paid a visit to Armenia in June of this year.
Commonspace.eu will run a live blog covering the visit of Pope Francis to Georgia and Azerbaijan starting from 0700 GMT on 30 September
source: commonspace.eu with the Vatican press office
photo: Pope Franics at a general audience in the Vatican (picture courtesy of Vatican Radio/ANSA)
"As expected the declaration from the 5th Eastern Partnership summit did not change in any significant way the approach of the EU to the eastern neighbourhood. However the declaration has something for everybody, and there are interesting nuances in the text that can form the basis in the future for the next steps in the EU's engagement with the region", commonspace.eu political editor said in a comment.
Getting the Eastern Neighbourhood right is a key necessity for the future security and prosperity of Europe. The Brussels summit offers an opportunity for important steps on this matter in the right direction – not as an end in themselves but rather as a part of a longer term and more ambitious vision.