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HOLY ETCHMIADZIN, Armenia, June 24. /TASS/. Pope Francis I’s visit to Armenia offers a new proof to the sisterhood of and cooperation between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Roman Catholic Church, the Supreme Patriarch and Most Holy Catholicos of all Armenians, Karekin II said on Friday as he welcomed Pope Francis in the Holy Etchmiadzin, the headquarters and main spiritual center of the Armenian Church.
The chiming of church bells of the main cathedral announced the arrival of the Pole to Etchmiadzin on Friday. The Primates of both Churches made bows in front of the altar and kissed the Bible and the Cross.
This was followed by their brotherly embrace, much to the satisfaction of numerous believers and pilgrims from around the world who had gathered in the cathedral, which was built in the 4th century AD soon after Christianity was proclaimed the state religion of Armenia.
"Your Holiness’s visit offers a new proof of the sisterhood and cooperation linking our Churches," Karekin II said. "It strengthens the believing sons and daughters of the Armenian and Roman Catholic Churches and incites hopes for further proofs of faith permeated with Christian love."
"The children of the Armenian Church recall with gratitude the mass in the St Peter’s basilica in memory of the martyrs of the Ottoman genocide of Armenians in 1915, which you led last year, and your history-making sermon that condemned this heinous crime," he said.
"You also made a notable contribution to the furtherance of friendly relations between the Churches at various stages of your service and showed a particularly warm attitude towards the Armenian Church and the Armenian nation," Karekin II said.
"After the destructions of the genocide years and during the Soviet-era rejection of God, our Church is evidencing a spiritual rebirth in the conditions of independent statehood," he said. "It performs freely its God-given mission in the life of our nation.".