From Gianfranco Cardinal Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture
Greetings from the Eternal City and the Pontifical Council for Culture.
I am writing to you in the backdrop of the beautiful memories of my visit to Azerbaijan. Behind my mind linger the images of your beautiful city of Baku, the magnificent Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, the lush green and enthralling beauty of the Region of Gabala, the cultural treasures of the Country which showed also the attention that you and your Government have been paying to cultural preservation. I was impressed by the conservation of the ancient early Christian churches which manifests your commitment to multicultural plurality. But even more, my heart is filled with the warmth of the affection, love and concern, Your Excellency, the First Lady, and all the officials of your Government showered on my during my short sojourn in your beautiful land.
I wish to express to you my deep gratitude and that of this Dicastery for the warm welcome that you gave me and all the affection that we received during our visit to Azerbaijan. I would like to thank you once again for honouring me with the Republic`s Order of Dostluq (Friendship). I am overwhelmed with emotion as this is one of the most important orders of Azerbaijan and this gesture of yours is an expression of the cultural friendship that has developed over the years between Your Government and the Pontifical Council for culture. I would attribute much of this to the interest your Excellency takes in the promotion of cultural ties, to the active interest that the First Lady Mrs. Aliyeva has always manifested.
I was very pleased with your attitude of openness towards the Catholic Church and to all cultures. An while once again congratulating you on your re-election as President of the Republic, I must appreciate the rapid strides the Country is making under your able leadership. Having seen the difference within three years of my visit to your lovely country, I can foresee a very bright future for the country under your guidance.
As discussed in our meeting, the culture of Azerbaijan and cultural ties with the country are very dear to me and to the Catholic Church.
While thanking you for your kindness towards me, I reassure you of my highest regard.
Gianfranco Cardinal Ravasi
President of the Pontifical Council for Culture