The Pope calls for respect of international law and the sovereign rights of nations - a reference to disputed Russian territories - on his official visit to ex-Soviet Georgia. Gavino Garay reports.
Pope Francis is choosing his words carefully in ex-Soviet Georgia He raised the sensitive issue of so-called "creeping occupation" by Russia, during his speech at the presidential palace in Tbilisi (TEE-BEE-LEE-SI). SOUNDBITE) (Italian) POPE FRANCIS, SAYING: "We can never lay aside respect for the sovereign rights of every country within the framework of international law." The Pope is treading carefully, apparently to preserve warming relations between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Church... although he says post-Soviet territorial disputes are violations of the rights of civilians and of a sovereign nation. Georgia won independence in 1991 but the Kremlin's shadow still looms large. Some within the local Orthodox community came out to protest against the Pope's visit, calling the Vatican "a spiritual aggressor." But not Orthodox leader, Patriarch Ilia II. For him, the Pope was greeted as a welcome guest.