Pope confirms his Kazakhstan trip is still on
A week before his scheduled departure for Armenia and Kazakhstan, Pope John Paul II has confirmed the trip is still on despite global instability in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks in the US.
Receiving the new Armenian ambassador to the Vatican on Saturday, the Holy Father said: "I am joyfully preparing to visit your country within a few days to meet with the civil authorities and the Armenian people, and to associate myself with the celebrations of the 17th centenary of Christianity in Armenia."
Kazakhstan is the first stage of the trip. The Holy Father will arrive there on Saturday. The former Soviet Union Republic has a Muslim majority.
Experts in terrorism, quoted today in the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, explained that Kazakhstan is not on the 'route' of Muslim terrorist groups.
Next Tuesday, the Pope will travel to on Armenia, where the majority of the population is faithful to the Armenian Apostolic Church, which separated from Rome after the Council of Chalcedon in 451.
He told the Armenian diplomat that he hopes his trip to Armenia will enable him "to consolidate the way of dialogue and the path toward unity begun with the Armenian Apostolic Church".