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Dialogue and respect for coexistence in the Caucasus

· At the General Audience the Pope recalls his trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan ·

“That all of the peoples of the Caucasus may live in peace and mutual respect”: this was the wish expressed by Pope Francis following his international journey to Georgia and Azerbaijan.

On Wednesday morning, 5 October, during the General Audience, the Pope recounted the main stages of the 15th international journey of his pontificate. Expressing his gratitude to the civil and religious authorities of the two countries, and in particular to the Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II and the Sheikh of Muslims of the Caucasus, he also thanked the bishops, priests and religious.He recalled that the journey was the “the continuation and completion” of the trip to Armenia in the month of June. In this way, Francis said, he could “implement the project of visiting all three of these countries in the Caucasus, so as to confirm the Catholic Church that is present in them, and to encourage the journey of those peoples towards peace and brotherhood”.

After stressing that “both of these countries have historical, cultural and religious roots that are very ancient”, and how “at the same time they are experiencing a new phase”, the Pope recalled the difficulties that they encounter “in various spheres of social life”. For this reason, he explained, the Catholic Church “is called to be present, to be near, especially as a sign of charity and human advancement; and it seeks to do so in communion with the other Churches and Christian Communities and in dialogue with other religious communities, in the certainty that God is the Father of everyone and that we are brothers and sisters”. Hence the invitation to “seek to encounter and dialogue with all those who believe in God, so as to build together a more just and fraternal world”.

Previously in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope had met with the managerial staff of the Vodafone Foundation, who presented him with a project of solidarity for African students.

Other events awaited the Pope in the afternoon: a meeting at the Vatican with the participants of a conference on sports and faith — preceded by a private audience with the UN Secretary General and the President of the International Olympic Committee — and the celebration of Vespers with the participation the Primate of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, in the Roman church of San Gregorio al Celio.

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