Visit of peace: Pope Francis arrives in Azerbaijan for the first time
Pope Francis paid a one-day visit under the slogan 'We are all brothers' to Baku on October 2. Pope Francis was welcomed by the Azerbaijani First Deputy Prime Minister, Yaqub Eyyubov, and the Deputy Foreign Minister, Khalaf Khalafov, at the Heydar Aliyev International Airport.
Ordinary of the Church of the Virgin Mary's Immaculate Conception (Roman Catholic Church) in Azerbaijan Vladimir Fekete read out a gratifying letter. “Dear Holy Father, fourteen years ago, some of us have had the privilege to meet your predecessor, John Paul II in this city,” Fekete said.
"This event was truly a miracle and up to now we are reaping the abundant spiritual fruits of that visit,” he said. “You, understand very well the meaning of words as discrimination, marginalization and poverty very well. At the same time you are trying to tell to the world how change these words and these realities change into new words and realities: mercy, kindness, tolerance and all other synonyms of the word – charity,” Fekete said.
“On behalf of the faithful, priests and religious of the Apostolic Prefecture in Azerbaijan, I express our gratitude and joy for your presence among us, for your words of encouragement, proclaimed during the homily and through your example of life, fully consecrated to the Kingdom of God. We ask you to continue to pray with us for reconciliation and peace in the Caucasus,” he added.
An official welcoming ceremony has been held for Pope Francis, who is on a pastoral visit in the Republic of Azerbaijan. A guard of honor was arranged for the Pontiff on the square decorated with the flags of Azerbaijan and the Holy See. The anthems of Azerbaijan and the Holy See were played.
President Aliyev said he is glad to greet Pope Francis in Azerbaijan. “Your visit to Azerbaijan is a historic visit,” Ilham Aliyev said and expressed gratitude to the Pope for accepting his invitation and visiting Azerbaijan. “I hope that you will return to your homeland with good impressions. Your visit is very important for the relations between Vatican and Azerbaijan and for the dialogue among civilizations,” Trend cited Ilham Aliyev as saying.
President Aliyev noted that representatives of all religions live in Azerbaijan as one family, in peace and good neighborliness.
Pope Francis expressed gratitude for the warm welcome in Azerbaijan. He noted that moral and cultural wealth is of great importance particularly in European countries. “Currently, this is an important factor for people. Thereby, we can talk about the fruitfulness of our relations,” Pope Francis said.
A guard of honor was arranged for the Pope at the Heydar Aliyev International Airport decorated with the flags of Azerbaijan and the Holy See. At the airport, Pope Francis was seen off by Azerbaijan’s First Deputy Prime Minister Yaqub Eyyubov, the Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov and other officials.