Delegation of the Holy See in Baku
Azerbaijan as a multicultural and tolerant country continues to develop interreligious and intercultural dialogue. Thus, the visits of Pope John Paul II in 2002 and Pope Francis in 2016 to Azerbaijan opened a new historical page in the Azerbaijan-Holy See relations. Now a delegation of the Holy See led by Secretary for Relations with States within the Holy See's Secretariat of State, Paul Richard Gallagher, recently arrived to Baku. On Saturday, speaking at the meeting with President Ilham Aliyev, Gallagher stressed the great importance of Azerbaijan's Catholic community, as evidenced by the promotion of the Ordinary of the Roman Catholic Church's Apostolic Prefecture in Azerbaijan Vladimir Fekete to the bishop's rank under the order of Pope Francis.
Today, First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva has met with a delegation of the Holy See.
Representatives of different religions, cultures and nations have lived in peace and mutual respect for centuries in Azerbaijan, and the Azerbaijani people highly appreciate the atmosphere of tolerance and peace. Mehriban Aliyeva described this as both the policy of the Azerbaijani government and the lifestyle of the Azerbaijani society. "This is one of the greatest assets of Azerbaijan, and an important message to the unstable world," the first vice-president of Azerbaijan assured.
She also recalled the events that were held on the occasion of the restoration of Azerbaijan's state independence and the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 2011- 2012 in the Vatican with the support of Paul Richard Gallagher, as well as the launch of the exhibition at one of the Vatican's museums, featuring Azerbaijan's history and traditions.
Azerbaijan became the first Muslim country to organize the exhibition at the Vatican museum, and now it contributes to the preservation of famous Christian monuments. The Saint Marcellino and Pietro's Catacombs, which were open to the public in 2016, were restored with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. The Foundation also participated in the restoration of the Pio-Clementine Museum's sculpture of Zeus and the reconstruction of the Sistine Chapel. Now the restoration of the tombs in the Catacombs of San Sebastiano is underway. The project is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Mehriban Aliyeva thanked the delegation of the Holy See for the opportunity provided by Azerbaijani scientists to work in the Vatican's secret archive. Paul Richard Gallagher, in turn, said that he is deeply impressed with his visit to Azerbaijan.