Details Released for Papal Trip to Kazakhstan and Armenia

VATICAN, Aug 27, 01 ( - The Vatican has released the official schedule for the visit by Pope John Paul II to Kazakhstan and Armenia, September 22-27.

The Holy Father's 95th foreign voyage will begin on Saturday, September 22, when he leaves Rome's Fiumicino airport on a six-hour flight to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. He will arrive there at 7:30 pm local time, and will be welcomed at the airport by President Noursoultan Nazarbaiev. The Pope will then visit a monument dedicated to the victims of Communism.

On September 23, the Pope will preside at an outdoor Mass in a main public square in Astana, then lead the recitation of the Angelus. He will then meet with the clergy of the region at the residence of the apostolic nuncio, and follow that conference with a meeting with young people at the Eurasian University.

On Monday, September 24, the Pope will celebrate Mass at the Astana cathedral; all the priests and religious of the country have been invited to that celebration. Then in the afternoon he will meet with a group of Kazakhstan's cultural and scientific leaders.

Pope John Paul will leave Kazakhstan on Tuesday morning, flying to Erevan, Armenia. There he will be met President R. Kotcharian, as well as bishops of both Catholic and Orthodox churches. After the airport ceremony he will go immediately to Etchmiadzin, to visit the city's cathedral, and then make a formal visit with the leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicos Karekin II, at his apostolic palace.

Returning to Erevan the next day, the Pope will pay a courtesy call on President Kotcharian, then visit the monument to Armenian genocide victims at Tzitzernagaberd. He will return to Etchmiadzin for a formal luncheon with the bishops of the Armenian Apostolic Church, at which Catholicos Karekin II will again be his host. Then he will head back to Erevan once again for an ecumenical ceremony in the cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator.

The Pope's visit to Armenia will allow him to participate in the celebration of the 1700th anniversary of Christianity in this, the first country formally to embrace the faith. He will also be attending celebrations of the 10th anniversary of Armenia's independence.

These ceremonies have also given rise to some diplomatic difficulties, complicating the plans for the Pope's visit. The new cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator will be dedicated on September 23: just before the Pope's arrival. Dozens of prominent prelates from the Catholic and Orthodox world will participate in that ceremony-- among them Patriarch Aleksei II of the Russian Orthodox Church. Since Aleksei has refused to meet with Pope John Paul, the Pontiff's arrival has been timed to avoid any possible confrontation.

After a day of travel back and forth from Erevan to Etchmiadzin, the Pope will finally end his busy Wednesday schedule in the latter city, spending the night there. On Thursday morning, September 27, he will celebrate Mass in Erevan, then spend the afternoon and evening with leaders of the local Armenian Catholic community.

After a visit to the Monastery of Khor Virab, the Pope will head for the airport, and a flight that is due back in Rome at 9 pm.

Catholic World News Service - Daily News Briefs
27. august 2001

av Webmaster publisert 28.08.2001, sist endret 28.08.2001 - 22:58