The Armenian Church consists of two catholicates and two patriarchates, and around six million faithful. The two catholicates of Etchmiadzin and Antelias are in full communion, but they are independent from an administrative point of view. The Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople refer to Etchmiadzin for spiritual questions.
Following Vatican Council II, new relations have developed between the Catholic Church and the Armenian Church. Representatives of the two Catholicates of Etchmiadzin and Antelias are members of the Mixed International Commission for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.
Aram I visited the Church of Rome and met with Pope John Paul II from 23 to 26 January 1997. More recently, the Catholicos visited Pope Benedict XVI in November 2008, and on that occasion they presided over an ecumenical prayer together.
The Catholicos will meet Pope Francis later this week and they will pray together. They will visit the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and various other dicasteries of the Roman Curia. Finally, they will visit the tomb of St. Peter and pray before the statue of St. Gregory the Illuminator, which is located on the north courtyard of the Vatican Basilica.