Pope Meets with Sarkisian

President Sarkisian and Pope Francis

VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis received Armenian President Serge Sarkisian along with an Armenian delegation on Sept. 19, reported the office of the President. The two discussed bilateral relations. It was noted that relations were based on similar Christian values and ideologies. The two also discussed the close cooperation between the Catholic Church and the Mother See of the Holy Etchmiadzin. During the meeting, President Sarkisian also extended an official invitation to Pope Francis to visit Armenia in 2015, which the Pope readily accepted, expressing his sincere desire to visit the country, according to the President’s office.

President Sarkisian also met with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and His Excellency Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for State Relations, according to a statement released by the Vatican. Among the topics discussed were the strengthening of bilateral relations, the role of Christianity in the history and current affairs of Armenia, and the situation of Christian and other minorities in the Middle East, including the refugee crisis. During the meeting, the peaceful resolution to the Karabagh conflict was also discussed, and President Sarkisian thanked Cardinal Parolin for the Vatican’s balanced position on the issue.

President Sarkisian arrived at the Vatican on Sept. 18. He visited the Vittoriano Museum for the official opening of a photo exhibit on Christianity, during which he also addressed the audience.

In his remarks, Sarkisian said that that the international community has never adequately responded to Azerbaijan’s destruction of Armenian historical monuments, especially in Julfa region of Nakhichevan.

“Recently we witnessed the consistent destruction of historic Armenian khachkars in Julfa – records of culture and faith. The destruction of the centuries-old cemetery in Julfa, which dates back to the 9th-16th centuries, was a manifestation of the policy of complete eradication of Armenian cultural heritage in Nakhichevan and Azerbaijan over the past two decades. And the international community has never adequately responded to that.”

In August, it was reported that Pope Francis will hold Mass for the Armenian Genocide Centennial in the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, on April 12, 2015. The Announcement was made by the Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires Mario Poli during a mass in the Armenian Catholic Parish of Our Lady of Narek.


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