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Pope Francis: “Our unity is seen in the blood of so many Christian martyrs”

© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA
© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA
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At Wednesday audience, pope reflects on apostolic visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan

VATICAN CITY — Seeds of unity are being sown “in the blood of so many Christian martyrs of different Christian confessions,” Pope Francis said this morning at the Wednesday general audience.

© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA

Addressing the faithful and pilgrims gathered in a sunny St. Peter’s Square, the pope reflected on his recent apostolic journey to Georgia and Azerbaijan. “This visit complemented my visit to Armenia in June,” he explained, “and fulfilled my desire to visit all three nations of the Caucasus to confirm the Catholic community and to encourage all the people in their journey toward peace and fraternity.”

© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA

The pope observed that although Georgia and Azerbaijan enjoy ancient historical, cultural and religious roots, they have only just celebrated twenty-five years of independence from the Soviet regime under which they lived for a good part of the 20th century, and are therefore experiencing great challenges.

Pope Francis prays at the Azerbaijan Baku City Shadhidlar Hiyabani Monument to the Fallen Heroes on October 2, 2016 in Baku.

Amid these challenges, Pope Francis said, “the Catholic Church is called to be present, to be close, especially in the sign of charity and promotion of human development, and she is seeking to do so in communion with the other Churches and Christian communities, and in dialogue with the other religious communities, in the certainty that God is the Father of all, and we are all brothers and sister.”

The motto of the pope’s journey to Georgia was “Pax vobis,” while his motto to the majority Shiite Muslim nation of Azerbaigian was “We are all brothers.”

Pope Francis releases a dove as a symbol of peace during a meeting with Chaldean community at the Catholic Church of St Simon Bar Sabbae in Tbilisi, on September 30, 2016. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO

Pope Francis noted in particular his meeting with the Orthodox Patriarch of Georgia, Ilia II, saying: “Our unity is seen in the blood of so many Christian martyrs of different Christian confessions, especially the Assyrian-Chaldean, with whom we prayed for peace in Syria, Iraq and the whole Middle East.”

Pope Francis and Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Illia II meet at the Orthodox cathedral in Tbilisi

“May God bless Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, and guide his holy people in those countries,” he said.

The general audience concluded with the ‘Our Father’ and the Apostolic Blessing.

© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA

Here below is the official English summary of the pope’s catechesis, followed by his special greeting to English-speaking pilgrims and young people, the sick and newlyweds.

Read more: Breathtaking eyewitness account of Fr. Jacques Hamel’s final moments

English summary

Dear Brothers and Sisters: I thank the Lord for the grace of my recent visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan, and I renew my gratitude to the civil and religious authorities of both countries, in particular to the Patriarch of All Georgia, Ilia II, and to the Sheikh of the Muslims of the Caucasus. This visit complemented my visit to Armenia in June, and fulfilled my desire to visit all three nations of the Caucasus to confirm the Catholic community and to encourage all the people in their journey toward peace and fraternity.

Though Georgia and Azerbaijan enjoy ancient historical, cultural and religious roots, they have only just celebrated twenty-five years of independence, and are experiencing great challenges. The Catholic Church is called to be close to them, especially through works of charity and promoting the good of the human person, in communion with the other Churches and Christian communities, and in dialogue with other religious communities.

In Georgia, our cooperation is naturally with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, and so Patriarch Ilia’s presence at the airport upon my arrival was a very important sign, as well as our visit to the Patriarchal Cathedral and our meeting which was very moving. Our unity is seen in the blood of so many Christian martyrs of different Christian confessions, especially the Assyrian-Chaldean, with whom we prayed for peace in Syria, Iraq and the whole Middle East.

In Azerbaijan, a primarily Muslim country, I was able to participate in an interreligious meeting and to celebrate Mass with the small Catholic community. Our communion of faith inspires us to deepen our encounter and dialogue with all who believe in God, so that together we can build a more just and fraternal world. May God bless Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, and guide his holy people in those countries.

© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA

Greetings to English-speaking pilgrims

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from England, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, Australia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and the United States of America. Upon all of you, I invoke the mercy and peace of the Lord, praying that you may share these gifts with all whom you will encounter. May God bless you!

© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA

Special greetings to young people, the sick, and newlyweds

A final thought for young people, the sick and newlyweds. The month of October is a missionary month, in which we are invited to pray intensely to the Virgin Mary, Queen of Missions. Dear young people, be missionaries of the Gospel in your surroundings with the mercy and tenderness of Jesus; dear sick, offer your suffering for the conversion of those who are far away and indifferent; and you, dear newlyweds, be missionaries in your families by announcing the Gospel of salvation through word and example.

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