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Official welcoming ceremony held for Pope Francis in Baku

An official welcoming ceremony has been held for Pope Francis, who arrived in Baku Oct.2 on a pastoral visit.

A guard of honor was lined up for the Pope on the square decorated with the flags of Azerbaijan and the Holy See.

State and government officials of Azerbaijan were introduced to Pope Francis, and members of the Holy See delegation were introduced to President Ilham Aliyev.

The guard of honor marched in front of President Ilham Aliyev and Pope Francis to the accompaniment of a military march.

President Ilham Aliyev and Pope Francis posed together for photographs.


Pope Francis hopes int’l community to help with Karabakh issue.

The world, unfortunately, is experiencing the tragedy of many conflicts fuelled by intolerance, which in turn is fomented by violent ideologies and by the effective denial of the rights of the weakest, Pope Francis said.

The Pope made the remarks delivering a speech at the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku.
“In order to effectively oppose these dangerous deviations, we need to promote a culture of peace, which is fostered by an untiring willingness for dialogue and by the awareness that there is no reasonable alternative to patiently and assiduously searching for shared solutions by means of committed and sustained negotiations,” he said.

He went on to add that just as within a country’s borders it is necessary to promote harmony among the various sectors, so too between states it is necessary to persevere wisely and courageously on the path which leads to authentic progress and the freedom of peoples, opening up new avenues that lead to lasting agreements and peace.

“In this way, peoples will be spared grave suffering and painful wounds, which are difficult to heal,” Pope Francis said.

“Mindful also of this country, I wish to express my heartfelt closeness to those who have had to leave their land and to the many people who suffer the effects of bloody conflicts,” the Pope said. “I hope that the international community may be able to offer unfailingly its indispensable help.”

“At the same time, in order to initiate a new phase for stable peace in the region, I invite everyone to grasp every opportunity to reach a satisfactory solution. I am confident that, with the help of God, and the good will of those involved, the Caucasus will be a place where, through dialogue and negotiation, disputes and differences will be resolved and overcome,” Pope Francis noted.

By such means, this area – “a gateway between East and West”, in the beautiful image used by Saint John Paul II when he visited your country (cf. Address at the Arrival Ceremony, 22 May 2002) – will also become a gateway open to peace, and an example to which we can look to solve old and new conflicts, said the Pope.

He also said that the Catholic Church, even though it has a small presence in the country, is truly present in the civic and social life of Azerbaijan; it participates in its joys and shares the challenges of confronting its difficulties.

“The juridical recognition, made possible by the ratification of the international agreement with the Holy See in 2011, has furthermore offered a stable regulatory framework for the life of the Catholic community in Azerbaijan,” said Pope Francis.

“I am moreover particularly pleased with the cordial relations enjoyed by the Catholic, Muslim, Orthodox and Jewish communities,” he said.

Pope Francis expressed hope that the signs of friendship and cooperation may continue to increase.

“These good relations assume great significance for peaceful coexistence and for peace in the world, and they demonstrate that among the followers of different religious confessions cordial relations, respect and cooperation for the good of all are possible,” he said.

“The attachment to authentic religious values is utterly incompatible with the attempt to violently impose on others one’s own vision, using God’s holy name as “armour”. Rather, may faith in God be a source and inspiration of mutual understanding and respect, and of reciprocal help, in pursuit of the common good of society,” said the Pope.

“May God bless Azerbaijan with harmony, peace and prosperity,” said Pope Francis.


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