Pope Francis I thanked Catholicos Garegin II for attending his recent inauguration at the Vatican in a letter that was delivered to the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church on Tuesday.
The letter was handed to him by Archbishop Marek Solczynski, the papal nuncio to Armenia.
“We expect to continue strengthening the friendship that we have already enjoyed for several years,” Garegin’s office in Echmiadzin quoted Francis as writing.
A statement issued by the office said Garegin asked Solczynski to pass his “brotherly greetings” on to the recently elected head of the Roman Catholic Church. It said the two also discussed “warm relations” and “close cooperation” between the Catholic and Armenian Churches.
Garegin attended the papal inauguration on March 19 together with President Serzh Sarkisian. In separate congratulatory messages sent to Francis earlier in March, both men expressed hope that the Vatican’s ties with Armenia will strengthen during his pontificate.
The new Pope, previously known as Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, has maintained warm relations with leaders of Argentina’s influential Armenian community. In 2006, he reportedly urged Turkey to recognize the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.
Garegin met and prayed with Bergoglio during a 2004 visit to Argentina.