DAILY CATHOLIC     TUESDAY     June 15, 1999     vol. 10, no. 115

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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POPE PLANS SURPRISE VISIT TO DYING ARMENIAN PRELATE

          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- In a surprise move, Pope John Paul II has decided to extend his latest trip by one day, in order to pay a visit to the ailing head of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

          Last week the Vatican announced that a papal visit to Armenia, scheduled for July 2-4, would be postponed because of the ill health of Catolicos Karekin I, who is suffering in an advanced stage of throat.

          However, while the public visit will take place at a later date, the Holy Father decided to make a personal trip to visit Karekin after he concludes his visit to Poland on June 18. The Pope will spend just three hours in Armenia, meeting with the Catolicos and with the country's President Robert Kocharian before returning to the Vatican. He will not many any public appearances during the visit.

          Vatican officials said that the Pope's decision to make the unprecedented detour in his return voyage was prompted by his profound respect for Karekin, and his desire to demonstrate their "spiritual fraternity" as the Armenian Church leader approached his death. Armen Sarkissian, the Armenian ambassador to the Holy See, described the Pope's gesture as "a magnificent display for friendship."

          At meetings held in Rome in December 1996, Karekin I and John Paul II signed a mutual statement on Christology, ending a 1500-year-old theological dispute which had begun after the Council of Chalcedon, and led to a break between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Holy See. The Pope's visit to Armenia had been eyed as an opportunity for further progress toward unity with the autonomous Armenian Church.


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June 15, 1999       volume 10, no. 115
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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