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September 30, 2016  

(Mat 28:18-20) And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

ARCHBISHOP PAUL GALLAGHER: “Following in the footsteps of Pope Saint John Paul II, who visited Armenia in 2001, Georgia in November 1999 and Azerbaijan in May 2002, the Holy Father carries with him, to the Caucasus, a message of peace and harmony among the nations, together with a word of encouragement for the Catholic communities present in the three countries, where they constitute a rather small minority. In addition, these visits to the region help deepen relations with the Georgian Orthodox Church, while facilitating interreligious dialogue in Azerbaijan.”

VATICAN RADIO: Georgia's ambassador on expectations for papal visit

: On a "Journey of Peace" to Georgia and Azerbaijan

Pope Francis 16th journey outside of Italy from September 30 to October 2 to two countries, Georgia and Azerbaijan, where Catholics are a small minority, will be a difficult one. In Georgia, in fact, Catholics are just 112 thousand out of a population of over 3.5 million and in Azerbaijan they are just 570, or 0.01 per cent of the nearly 10 million inhabitants.

Beyond the numbers, they are two very different realities. Georgia is the country where over 80 percent of the inhabitants are Christians, but the Orthodox Church is particularly “intransigent” on its principles. This is demonstrated by its decision not to participate in the Pan-Orthodox Council that was held in Crete in June this year and the fact that between the Patriarch Ilia II and the Pope there will be no joint prayer.

The patriarch, however, will be at Tbilisi airport. This was announced by the director of the Vatican press office, Greg Burke, who described the visit today. "Of course - he said – it is a journey of peace. The Pope carries a message of reconciliation for the whole region. It will be the first time that an Orthodox delegation will participate in the Mass presided by the Holy Father ".In  short, things will go a bit' better the visit by John Paul II in November 1999, when a penance was imposed on those who had attended the celebrations and meetings with the Pope.

Instead Azerbaijan is a Muslim country and Francis, as John Paul II did before him, is going there for reasons of inter-religious relations, and political and diplomatic reasons, due to the decades-long conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Pope will leave Friday morning and will arrive in Tbilisi at 15 (local time). After the welcoming ceremony and the traditional courtesy visit to President Giorgi Margvelashvili and with the Georgian authorities, Francis will travel to the palace to meet with Catholicos Patriarch Elijah II.

The last appointment of the day, a visit to the Chaldean Catholic church of St. Simon Bar Sabbae, where he will attend the Chaldean Synod, namely the episcopate of the Eastern Church in communion with Rome widespread mainly in Iraq and the Middle East. In the church of St. Simon Bar Sabbae Pope Francis will preside at a prayer service to express closeness to the Syrian and Iraqi peoples.

BULLETIN: Statistics of the Catholic Church in Georgia and Azerbaijan, 26.09.2016

VATICAN RADIO: Details of Pope Francis' visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 7- "On Joy-Making Mourning"

25. Both in creation and in compunction, there is that which moves itself and that which is moved by something else. When the soul becomes tearful, moist and tender without effort or trouble, then let us run, for the Lord has come uninvited, and is giving us the sponge of God-loving sorrow and the cool water of devout tears to wipe out the record of our sins. Guard these tears as the apple of your eye until they withdraw. Great is the power of this compunction, greater than that which comes as a result of our own effort and reflection.

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