- Title: Azeri capital prepares to welcome Pope Francis
- Date: 1st October 2016
- Summary: BAKU, AZERBAIJAN (OCTOBER 1, 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF BAKU BAY PEOPLE SITTING ON BENCHES OUTSIDE LITTLE GIRL STROKING CAT CARS IN STREET TRAFFIC POLICE (SOUNDBITE) (English) BAKU RESIDENT, ZAKA GULUYEV, SAYING: "Jewish people, Muslim people and Christian people are living together in Azerbaijan, respect each other’s religion. And that's why I would say Azerbaijan is a very religion tolerant country, so it will be a great pleasure to see Pope Francis in Azerbaijan as well." (SOUNDBITE) (English) BAKU RESIDENT, ANASTASIYA LAVRINA, SAYING: "I think it will be a really good visit. And we should expect maybe good outcomes. It will somehow implicate, will have some kind of implications for the future of Azerbaijan obviously." (SOUNDBITE) (English) BAKU RESIDENT, AYAZ MIRZOYEV, SAYING: "We have one great problem - the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. And I think it will be a pleasure if the pope tries to help in the solving process of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem." CHURCH OF VIRGIN MARY'S IMMACULATE CONCEPTION SATELLITE DISH TRUCKS PARKED NEAR CHURCH EXTERIOR OF CHURCH WHERE A FRAME FOR A TV SCREEN IS BEING BUILT IN YARD CASES WITH EQUIPMENT VARIOUS OF WORKERS STARTING TO ASSEMBLE FRAME CHURCH INTERIOR MAN WIPING PLANT MOSAIC ICON JESUS CHRIST ON THE CROSS STATUE VARIOUS OF CHURCH MEMBERS INCLUDING NUN PREPARING PLACARD PLAQUE ON WALL IN MEMORY OF JOHN PAUL II PEW DECORATED WITH RIBBON ITEMS ON PEW STAINED-GLASS WINDOW VARIOUS OF MAIDEN TOWER CARS IN STREET, FLAME TOWERS SEEN IN DISTANCE VIEWS OF BAKU BAY AZERBAIJAN FLAG ATOP STRUCTURE
- Embargoed: 16th October 2016 14:01
- Keywords: Azerbaijan pope Francis visit church catholics Baku
- Location: BAKU, AZERBAIJAN
- City: BAKU, AZERBAIJAN
- Country: Azerbaijan
- Topics: Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA00152696PZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Ex-Soviet Azerbaijan on Saturday (October 1) prepared to welcome the head of the Roman Catholic Church Pope Francis who is expected to arrive in the capital Baku on Sunday (October 2) after visiting neighbouring Georgia.
The pope will meet with members of the local Catholic Salesian community of about 300 people, hold a meeting with Azeri president Ilham Aliyev and pay a visit to the monument for the victims of the fight for independence before leaving for Rome.
Preparations were underway in the Church of the Virgin Mary Immaculate Conception where the pope is expected to hold Mass on Sunday. The church was built in 2006, four years after Pope John Paul II's visit to Azerbaijan when he was granted land for construction by former Azeri president, Heydar Aliyev.
There are very few Roman Catholics in Azerbaijan. The country is about 95 percent Muslim.
Relations between Azerbaijan and the Vatican have developed in recent years with reconstruction activities funded by Azerbaijan at Vatican City. The catacombs of Saints Marcellinus and Peter were restored with the initiative of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and opened to the public in February.
The Vatican announced the visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan in April, just a day after combatants in the region agreed to cease fighting that had killed dozens over a week. Azerbaijan's military and Armenian-backed separatists were locked in shelling and artillery strikes for four days over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, stoking fears of all-out war.
The Vatican has not mentioned the conflict since announcing the trip.
Earlier this year Pope Francis visited Armenia, where again very few Catholics live and over 90 percent of the population are Oriental Orthodox Christians.
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