CWN - On October 1, the second of his two days in the Caucasus nation of Georgia, Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the Catholic community, paid tribute to charity workers at a health-care clinic run by the Camillian order, and visited the Georgian Orthodox patriarchal cathedral.
A nation of 3.7 million, Georgia is 84% Eastern Orthodox, 10% Muslim, and 2% Catholic.
Some of the Pope’s most memorable remarks came during extemporaneous comments at the Latin-rite Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital.
Lamenting the pain suffered by children as a result of divorce, he said, “You do not know, dear brothers and sisters, you do not know how much children suffer, the little ones, when they witness the arguments and the separation of parents! Everything should be done to save a marriage.”
He added: "You, Irina, mentioned a great enemy to marriage today: the theory of gender. Today there is a world war to destroy marriage. Today there are ideological colonizations which destroy, not with weapons, but with ideas. Therefore, there is a need to defend ourselves from ideological colonizations."
Turning to relations with the Orthodox, he said: "Let the theologians study the abstract realities of theology. But what should I do with a friend, neighbor, an Orthodox person? Be open, be a friend. “But should I make efforts to convert him or her?” There is a very grave sin against ecumenism: proselytism. We should never proselytize the Orthodox! They are our brothers and sisters, disciples of Jesus Christ."
Earlier in the day, during Mass at Mikheil Meskhi Stadium, the Pope called upon the faithful to receive the consolation of God through “the Gospel we read every day and carry around with us, our silent prayer in adoration, confession, the Eucharist,” and then in turn to impart God’s consolation to others.
During his visit to the Svietyskhoveli Patriarchal Cathedral in Mskheta, the Pope said that Christians are called “to avoid putting first disharmony and divisions between the baptized, because what unites us is much more than what divides us.”
“The holy tunic, a mystery of unity, exhorts us to feel deep pain over the historical divisions which have arisen among Christians: these are the true and real lacerations that wound the Lord’s flesh,” he continued. “At the same time, however, ‘that unity which comes from above,’ the love of Christ which has brought us together, giving us not only his garment but his very body, urge us to not give up but rather to offer ourselves as he did (cf. Rom 12:1): they urge us to sincere charity and to mutual understanding, to bind up wounds, with a spirit of pure Christian fraternity.”