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Vatican prelate visits Azerbaijan, a nation of 450 Catholics

CWN - June 12, 2012

Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, traveled to the largely Muslim country of Azerbaijan to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Blessed John Paul’s apostolic journey there. The nation of 9.4 million, formerly part of the Soviet Union, became independent in 1991 and has 450 Catholics.

Preaching in Baku, the nation’s capital, on June 10, Cardinal Filoni said:

This tiny local Church [was] yet very much in the heart of John Paul II, so much so that, despite his declining health, a few years before his final journey to heaven on April 2, 2005, he came here in May 2002 to acknowledge the heroism of the local Catholics who remained faithful to their baptismal commitments under the brunt of persecution, depriving them for 70 years of priests, thus silencing the proclamation of the Good News of salvation, demolishing church buildings and dispossessing them not only of dignity, but most of all, of access to the Eucharist.

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