(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 01.08.2022).- On Monday, August 1, the Holy See Press Office confirmed what the Government of Kazakhstan anticipated in mid-April, 2022. The Pontiff will visit that country in the context of a congress for religious leaders.
“Accepting the invitation of the Civil and Ecclesial Authorities, Pope Francis will undertake the announced Apostolic Journey to Kazakhstan from September 13-15 of this year, visiting the city of Nur-Sultan on the occasion of the 7th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.”
This trip was confirmed a second and third dime. The second time at the end of May 2021 in the context of the celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Kazakhstan. The third was during the press conference on the return flight from Canada to Rome, when the Pontiff said:
“For the moment, I’d like to go to Kazakhstan: it’s a tranquil trip, without much movement; it’s a congress of religions. However, for the time being everything remains to be seen. I also have to go to South Sudan before [going] to the Congo, because it’s a trip with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of the Church of Scotland, the three of us together, given our retreat two years ago — then the Congo. But it will be next year because now the rainy season is underway . . . We’ll see. I’ve every good will, but we’ll see what [my] leg says.”
Ecumenical and Diplomatic Challenges
It was speculated, in the context of this trip to Kazakhstan, that the Pope would meet with the Patriarch of Moscow, something that is yet to be confirmed. In an interview with the Prefect of the Dicastery for Christian Unity, the Prefect explained the genesis of this meeting and outlined some of the ecumenical challenges.
However, there will not only be ecumenical challenges but also diplomatic ones. Kazakhstan has positioned itself in favour of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. But one of the routes for the flight from Italy to Kazakhstan implies flying over Russian air space.