And this is probably why it considers other religious denominations as "rivals, or even obstacles, for the unity of the country."
In Georgia, Pope Francis also said Mass for Latin Catholics, Armenians and Assyrian-Chaldeans on the feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, the patroness of Missions.
St. Therese, he said, serves as a reminder "that the real mission is never proselytism, but attraction to Christ from a strong union with Him in prayer, adoration and concrete charity, which is service to Jesus present in the least of our brothers."
The Pope said the religious men and women he met in Tbilisi, Georgia as well as in Baku, Azerbaijan all exemplified "prayer and charitable and promotional works."
"I encouraged them to be steadfast in the faith, with memory, courage and hope," he said. "And then there are the Christian families: how precious it is, their present reception, accompaniment, discernment and integration into the community!"
While visiting the Patriarchal Cathedral in Georgia, Francis prayed for peace in Syria, Iraq and throughout the Middle East with the Assyrian-Chaldeans, who are one of the most persecuted communities there.
"This style of evangelical presence as the seed of the Kingdom of God is, if anything, even more necessary in Azerbaijan," Pope Francis said, "where the majority of the population are Muslims and Catholics are a few hundred."
Thankfully the Catholics in Azerbaijan have a good relationship with everyone, in particular Orthodox Christians, the Pope noted.
He said that in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, there were two moments of faith that showed a proper balance of prayer and ecumenism: the celebration of the Eucharist in the Holy Mass and an inter-religious meeting.
"In this perspective, addressing myself to the Azerbaijani authorities, I hope that the open questions can find good solutions and all Caucasian peoples may live in peace and in mutual respect," the Pope said.
"The Eucharist with the Catholic community, where the Spirit harmonizes the different languages and gives strength to the witness," he said, adding that this communion in Christ "does not impede" relations, but "in fact pushes one to try to meet and have a dialogue with all those who believe in God, to jointly build a more just and fraternal world."
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