(Vatican Radio) The Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Greg Burke, is accompanying Pope Francis on the Holy Father’s journey to Georgia and Azerbaijan this weekend. Burke spoke with Vatican Radio late in the afternoon on Saturday, to share his impressions of the day’s events.“It’s been an intense day-and-a-half,” Burke said, before identifying two distinct, though related keys to understanding the Pope’s purpose and focus in Georgia: pastoral solicitude for the small Catholic community in the country, and strengthening ecumenical ties. “This is a country with a very tiny Catholic population, and [Pope Francis] is here to take care [for] it,” Burke explained, noting the strong charitable presence of the Church, especially through the Camillian order, which cares for several hundred disabled and vulnerable people, with whom the Holy Father met Saturday AfternoonOn the ecumenical side of things, Burke followed Pope Francis in frankly recognizing the progress that needs to be made, while emphasizing the great strides that have been taken and good work that has been done in the cause of Christian unity. “An incredible amount of good will from the Patriarch [Ilia II] himself,” Burke said, describing the visit of the Pope and the Patriarch in the Patriarchal cathedral as, “splendid,” noting, “signs of real affection, one for the other – and a promise to pray for one another.”
Pope Francis and new Vatican Spokesman Greg Burke, speak with journalists on board the flight Rome to Tiblisi, 30 september 2016 – ANSA
Burke also told Vatican Radio the Holy Father’s particular pastoral strengths were on display throughout the day.
“He was really strong,” Burke said, “as a catechist: as [the carrier of] a sort of basic, ‘Let’s remember how to live the Christian faith – let’s go back to the basics,’ [message], and finding the joy in living the Christian faith.”