ROME — In early April, Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press service, announced that Pope Francis plans to make two important trips to the Caucasus region over the coming months. He will be in Armenia from June 24-26, and will visit Georgia and Azerbaijan from September 30 to October 2. When asked by journalists whether he would also go to Karabagh, Lombardi answered, “I am communicating only that there will be two trips, to Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. At the moment, there is nothing else.”
The Pontiff will reportedly be not only in Yerevan but also Gumri, where he will visit the Catholic Cathedral Holy Mother of God, which was the only church functioning during the Soviet period. The invitation to Armenia was issued by Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians. The catholicos and Ilia II, Catholicos Patriarch of all Georgia, as well as the civil and religious authorities of Georgia and Azerbaijan extended the invitation to their countries.
According to Italian press commentaries, Pope Francis, who has looked forward to visiting Armenia, scheduled his trip this year, so as to minimize frictions with Turkey, which he visited in 2014. The Pontiff has been explicit in his condemnation of the Genocide.
— Muriel Mirak-Weissbach