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Pope Francis' recent visit to the country has helped to strengthen and confirm people in their faith, head of the Catholic Church in Armenia, Archbishop Raphael Minassian told Vatican Radio.

The Archbishop, who was among those accompanying the Pope during his stay in Armenia, believes that there has already been a visible result “in the soul of the people” who heard the Pope’s message during the Mass at Gyumri.

The heart of that message, he says, was the simplicity, spirituality and modest style that the Pope showed in his approach to all people in Armenia.

Archbishop Minassian says people have already reacted by visiting churches more frequently and contacting their clergy. He recalls the profound silence of the 30.000 people attending the Mass who were “hypnotized” by the Pope’s presence and atmosphere of prayer.

Commenting on the political implications of the visit, he says: “For me, the genocide is a historical fact” so the Pope’s use of the word to describe the 1915 massacre is not so significant.

He says that of all the places in the world where he has served in his 43 years of priestly ministry, it is in the Caucuses region where people of all ages are most strongly attached to their Christian faith.

Asked about his hopes for the Pope’s visit to Azerbaijan and Georgia, Archbishop Minassian speaks of the Holy Father’s “magic” way of reaching out to people but he adds that all Christians have an obligation to be messengers of peace like him.

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