Pope Francis has confirmed his official visit to Kazakhstan and participation in the VII Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, Kazakhstan’s presidential office said, following a phone call between the Head of the Catholic Church and Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on April 11.
“I look forward to this significant event in terms of promoting interreligious dialogue, unity and rapprochement of states, which is extremely important these days,” Pope Francis told Tokayev. “We see how diverse and united your country is. This is the basis of stability. We are glad that Kazakhstan understands this. You can count on my support, I appreciate your efforts,” he said.
Previously, Pope John Paul II visited Kazakhstan in September 2001, a few weeks after 9/11. The visit of John Paul II to Kazakhstan is a historic event not only for the Catholics of Kazakhstan, but also for the entire state where in Pope John Paul II’s words, “citizens belonging to over a hundred nationalities and ethnic groups live side by side, each guaranteed the same rights and freedoms by your Constitution”.
The 7th World Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions will be held in the coming September in Kazakhstan’s capital Nur-Sultan. Tokayev noted that this event is of great importance for Kazakhstan.
The religious and ethnic accord in Kazakhstan promotes the Kazakh model of interfaith harmony and unity. Some 500,000 Poles were deported to Kazakhstan in 1939-1941, whose ethnic identity was nationalistic and Roman Catholic, which made them unreliable in the eyes of the Soviet authorities, some are living in Kazakhstan since then.
Tokayev also informed the Head of the Catholic Church about the implementation of large-scale political and economic reforms in the country.