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Pope in Georgia: to Patriarch Ilia II, “may difficulties not be an obstacle”

“May difficulties not be an obstacle, but rather a stimulus to know each other better, to share the vital sap of the faith, to intensify our prayers for each other and to cooperate with apostolic charity in our common witness, to the glory of God in heaven and in the service of peace on earth”. Pope Francis expressed this hope during the meeting he had with Patriarch Ilia II in Tbilisi. May the “multitude of saints, whom this country counts”, the Pope said, referring to the “glorious history of the Gospel” in Georgia, and particularly “Saint Nino, who is considered equal to the Apostles”, encourage us “to put the Gospel before all else and to evangelize as in the past, even more so, free from the restraints of prejudice and open to the perennial newness of God”. The Georgian people, the Pope recalled, “have found the strength to rise up again after countless trials” and “have reached the heights of extraordinary artistic beauty”. “Within love itself lies the raison d’être of the immortal beauty of your cultural patrimony expressed in so many different ways, such as in music, painting, architecture and dance”, the Pope said. Then, addressing again the Catholicos, and calling him “dear brother”, he praised the “sacred hymns, some even in Latin and greatly cherished in the Catholic tradition” composed by him. “They enrich your treasury of faith and culture, which are a unique gift to Christianity and to humanity; this gift deserves to be known and appreciated by all”.

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