Pope to visit Kazakhstan in September
Pope Francis will make his 38th overseas apostolic trip to Kazakhstan in mid-September, visiting the city of Nur-Sultan on the occasion of the VII Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
Pope Francis will visit Kazakhstan in September.
In a statement issued on Monday, Matteo Bruni, the director of the Holy See’s press office announced: “Accepting the invitation of the civil and ecclesial authorities, Pope Francis will make the announced apostolic trip to Kazakhstan from September 13 to 15 this year, visiting the city of Nur-Sultan on the occasion of the VII Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.
The congress will be held in the Kazakh capital.
The theme of this year’s event will be “The role of leaders of world and traditional religions in the social-spiritual development of humanity after the pandemic”.
Every three years, religious leaders from around the world meet at the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, in Nur-Sultan.
In 2003, former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev convened the first such congress.
It was inspired by Pope John Paul II’s Day of Prayer for Peace held in the Italian city of Assisi in 1986, which brought together various religions and leaders to promote interreligious dialogue, peace and harmony.
The “Spirit of Assisi” meetings became an annual tradition that was held each year in a different city in Europe.
The Pope’s continued interest in visiting
In early April, the pope spoke about this possible trip during a live video chat he had with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
Upon returning from his apostolic visit to Canada, the pope reiterated his hope of going there.
“At the moment, I would like to go to Kazakhstan. It wouldn’t be too rigorous a trip,” he said.
He reaffirmed his interest in being present at the congress of religions and remarked that it would probably not be too physically demanding.
Quick facts about Kazakhstan
On December 16, 1991, Kazakhstan gained independence from the former Soviet Union.
According to the Pew Research Center, the country is at least 70% Muslim and about 25% Christian, with less than 1% Catholic.
Saint John Paul II was the first pope to visit Kazakhstan, from September 22 to 25, 2001, with the motto “Love one another”.