DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY     September 9, 1999     vol. 10, no. 171

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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POPE TO VISIT EX-SOVIET GEORGIA IN NOVEMBER

        TBILISI (CWNews.com) - Pope John Paul II will visit the former Soviet republic of Georgia on November 8-9, after a visit to India, according to the Russian news agency Itar-Tass on Wednesday.

        The Holy Father is expected to meet with Catholicos Iliya II, Patriarch of All Georgia, President Eduard Shevardnadze, and the small Georgian Catholic community. The report quoted the apostolic nuncio in Tbilisi as saying the decision to visit was made in July.

        "After a careful assessment of the situation in the region Rome decided on a specific date for the Pope's visit to Georgia. The Vatican knows that there are parliamentary elections in Georgia at the end of October and about the military operation in Dagestan," said nuncio spokesman Georgy Tskitishvili.

        Officials in the Georgian government and the Orthodox Church reportedly suggested that the Pope could visit either in November of this year or sometime in 2001. They also cautioned that the conflict between Soviet armed forces and guerrillas in nearby Daguestan should be taken into consideration. After "careful evaluation" of those factors, the papal nuncio in Georgia reported, the November date was selected. So Pope John Paul will arrive in Georgia on November 8, as he returns from his voyage to India.

        There are only about 70,000 Catholics in Georgia, constituting less than 2 percent of the country's population. They are served by 30 parishes, under an apostolic administration that serves Latin-rite Catholics in Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as Georgia.

        The Holy Father canceled a planned trip to neighboring Armenia twice this summer, once when Catholicos Karekin I of Armenian Orthodox Church fell ill and then after the Pope fell ill during a trip to Poland. Catholicos Karekin later died of his illness.


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September 9, 1999       volume 10, no. 171
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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