The Vatican has announced that Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Unity, will head up a Holy See delegation traveling to Armenia for an historic meeting of the joint international commission for theological dialogue between Catholics and Eastern Orthodox.

The meeting is the third of its kind to be hosted by the commission, and will be held at the Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin, Armenia, from January 26 to 30.

The group’s first meeting took place in Cairo, Egypt in 2004, and the second in Rome last year.

Catholicos of all Armenia, Karekin II, has invited two delegations, one Catholic, headed by Cardinal Kasper, and one Orthodox, which will be led by Metropolitan Amba Bishoy of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

According to a statement released today, the program will include "three themes for study and dialogue, all related to the central theme of the Church as communion: bishops in the apostolic succession; the relationship between primacy and collegiality; and the working and ecclesiological importance of synods at the local and ecumenical level."

It also stated that following the Armenia trip, Cardinal Kasper, will visit the Republic of Georgia from January 31st to February 4th.

He will be accompanied by Fr. Jozef M. Maj S.J., an official at the oriental section of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.

The Georgia visit will be the first by a president of the Pontifical Council in 15 years. It comes in response to an invitation by Bishop Giuseppe Pasotto, apostolic administrator of Caucasus of the Latinsto, visit the local Catholic community.

A meeting with His Holiness Ilia II, Catholicos Patriarch of all Georgia, primate of the Georgian Orthodox Church, is also scheduled for the Cardinal.

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He is slated to deliver a talk on relations between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, on the February 2nd Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, preside at a Eucharistic celebration in the presence of local faithful, and participate in an ecumenical prayer at the cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Cardinal Kasper will conclude his trip with visits to an ecclesiastical academy, as well as many of the major shrines and monastic centers of the Orthodox Church.