- Title: Georgia prepares for visit by Pope Francis
- Date: 28th September 2016
- Summary: TBILISI, GEORGIA (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS VIEWS OF TBILISI / CABLE CAR ABOVE RIVER VIEW OF TBILISI CATHEDRAL EXTERIOR OF CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE HOLY VIRGIN MARY STATUE ON CATHEDRAL FACADE POSTER AT ENTRANCE PICTURING POPE FRANCIS
- Embargoed: 13th October 2016 14:07
- Keywords: Georgia Pope Francis catholic church
- Location: TBILISI, GEORGIA
- City: TBILISI, GEORGIA
- Country: Georgia
- Topics: Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA00151HD9VR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The former Soviet Republic of Georgia prepares for a visit by Pope Francis, which starts on September 30 on the invitation from Georgian Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II.
During his stay the Pope is expected to meet the president, the head of the Georgian church, representatives of civil society and members of the local Catholic community and to hold a Holy mass in the capital Tbilisi.
"The Pope loves meeting people as such meetings bring peace and unity. So, peace and unity will be the gifts, which he leaves here," said Giuseppe Pasotto, Catholic Archbishop in Georgia.
It is the first trip by Pope Francis to Georgia, but the second visit by the head of the Catholic church - Pope John Paul visited this small Caucasus country 17 years ago.
Tengiz Pkhaladze, adviser to the Georgian president, said the upcoming visit by the Pope is important for the country which is one of the first Christian nations in the world.
"The Pope's visit is a significant event which highlights Georgia's importance, because this is the oldest Christian country and many shrines we have here - they are valuable and holy for both Catholics and Orthodox," Pkhaladze said.
But the Pope's upcoming trip has angered Georgian Orthodox hard-liners who staged a protest outside the Vatican embassy in Tbilisi.
"As far as I know he (the Pope) plans to hold a mass on the stadium. I'd like to address all Orthodox believers and tell them that those who attend it, will betray their own beliefs," said Orthodox priest and protest participant father Nikoloz.
80 percent of Georgians are Orthodox Christians.
After Georgia the Pope will travel to another Caucasus country Azerbaijan, where 95 percent of the population are Muslims.
There are very few Roman Catholics in both Georgia and Azerbaijan.
In June the Pope visited another country in the region - Armenia.
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