Pope Francis during his visit to Azerbiajan recently reiterated the need for good relations between various faiths, in order to maintain peace in the world. He spent 10 hours in the Azeri capital of Baku with one of the world’s smallest Catholic communities. He appreciated the good relations between the local Christians with Azerbaijan’s Shiite Muslim majority, Jewish, Orthodox and other religious communities.
While conversing with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and government officials he said, “These good relations assume great significance for peaceful coexistence and for peace in the world. They demonstrate that among followers of different religious confessions, cordial relations, respect and cooperation for the common good are possible.”
The Pontiff celebrated Mass in Baku’s new Catholic Church. “Have courage! Go on, without fear! Go ahead!” He went on to urge the 400 Catholic faithful in the church while 450 were accommodated om the courtyard.
Following the mass, the Salesian priests who minister to Azerbaijani Catholics presented Pope Francis with a hand-woven carpet. Azerbaijan is famed for its magnificent carpets. While expressing great joy, one of the parishioner Eva Agalarova said: “I cannot contain my boundless joy.”