Tbilisi, October 3, Interfax - The Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of All Georgia addressed Pope Francis with the greeting "My beloved brother" at a meeting with him in the patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church on Friday.
The patriarch called the pope's visit a historical one. He presented him a Georgian icon. The pope accepted and kissed it.
Ilia II also mentioned the main issue of Georgia today, unresolved conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, in his welcome speech.
"Today, Georgia is facing this issue, about 500,000 of its citizens are refuges. Abkhazia and the Tskhinval Region [South Ossetia], originally Georgian territories, are currently occupied, but we believe that these issues will be resolved," he said.
In turn, Pope Francis also addressed Ilia II "My beloved brother" in his greeting. He made a gift of a Bible in a jewel-encrusted display to the patriarch.
"One needs to free oneself of previously created notions. Let no difficulties hinder us; instead, we should know each other better and pray for one another. I would like to be a true friend of your country and people," the pope said.