- Title: Pope Francis visits Georgian capital, undeterred by protests
- Date: 30th September 2016
- Summary: ****WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** BOY HOLDING DOVE POPE FREEING DOVE AMID CHEERING AUDIENCE WOMAN SMILING POPE WALKING THROUGH CROWD VARIOUS OF POPE LEAVING / PROTESTERS STANDING WITH BANNERS IN DISTANCE
- Embargoed: 15th October 2016 18:31
- Keywords: Pope Francis Tblisi Georgia visit trip flight
- Location: IN AIR / TBLISI, GEORGIA
- City: IN AIR / TBLISI, GEORGIA
- Country: Georgia
- Topics: Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA00551REWQV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Pope Francis was confronted with protesters in Georgia on Friday (September 30), as he arrived for a visit in the ex-Soviet state.
Less than one percent of Georgia's population of about 3.7 million are Catholic. The overwhelming majority belong to Orthodox Christianity, which broke with Rome in 1054.
The Georgian Orthodox Church is one of the more conservative in the Orthodox world and some of its more hard-core members protested at the airport. They held signs reading: "Vatican is a spiritual aggressor" and "Pope, arch-heretic, you are not welcome in Orthodox Georgia".
Under Francis, who was elected in 2013, the Vatican has made a concerted effort to improve relations with Orthodox Christians in the hopes of an eventual reunion. Earlier this year, he held a historic meeting with Kirill, the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.
On Friday evening there was no sign of tension between the two Churches as Georgia's ailing, 83-year-old Orthodox leader, Patriarch Ilia II, warmly welcomed the pope.
Francis also visited a church of the country's Assyrian-Chaldean Christian community, where he prayed for victims of war in the Middle East, asking God to comfort those "wearied by bombing" and to "raise up Iraq and Syria from devastation".
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