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Pope Francis will make two trips to the Caucasus region

by Carlo Marroni

Pope Francis will make two trips to the Caucasus region in the coming months: he will be in Armenia from June 24 to June 26 and in Georgia and Azerbaijan from September 30 to October 2.

The recent announcement did not take the observers by surprise: these are destinations that have been in the planning stages for some time.

The details are still not known, such as, for example, whether the Pope will make a stop in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan contended by the two countries, the scene of hostilities since the 1990s that have escalated recently.

“All I will say is that there are going to be two trips, one to Armenia and one to Georgia and Azerbaijan. That's it for now,” said the spokesman Father Lombardi.

Francis, therefore, will soon fly to the country that last year commemorated the centenary of the “Great Evil,” the extermination of Armenian Christians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915.

In Armenia, according to “Il Sismografo,” Bergoglio will visit the capital Yerevan, and then go to the second largest city Gumri (or Gyumri), where he will stop at the Cathedral of the Holy Mother of God, the only church that remained active in the country during the Soviet period.

The Pope's trip to Armenia is a delicate matter also with regard to relations with Turkey, which have recently become normal once again. The Pope has wanted to visit Armenia --reveals The Vatican Insider -- for some time. But he waited to do so after first visiting Turkey (in November 2014) and after avoiding having the trip coincide with the centenary of the “Great Evil.”