Pope Francis is to embark on two international visits in the Caucasus region in the coming months. He will visit Armenian from 24 to 26 June and Georgia and Azerbaijan from 30 September to 2 October.
The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, announced the news to journalists today.
When asked whether he would visit Nagorno-Karabakh, Fr. Lombardi said: “All I will say is that there are going to be two trips, one to Armenia and one to Georgia and Azerbaijan. That is it for now.” The disputed Armenian enclave inside Azerbaijan has been the scene of hostilities since the 90s and these have escalated recently.
Francis will therefore shortly be visiting the country that commemorated the centenary of the “Great Evil” – the extermination of Armenian Christians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 – last year.
According to Italian religious news blog Il Sismografo, during his stay in Armenia, in addition to the capital Erevan, the Pope will also go to the country’s second major city Gyumri, where he will visit the Cathedral of the Holy Mother of God, the only functioning church there during the Soviet era.
The Pope’s trip to Armenia is a delicate affair, partly with regard to relations with Turkey. The Pope has wanted to visit Armenia for some time now. He waited until after his visit to Turkey (in November 2014) and after the centenary of the “Great Evil”.