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Pope, opening Kazakh visit, blasts ‘senseless’ Ukraine war

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan (AP) Pope Francis begged for a finish to Russias senseless and tragic war in Ukraine as he arrived Tuesday in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan to become listed on faith leaders from all over the world in praying for peace.

Francis flew to the Kazakh capital of Nur-Sultan to meet up with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev for the official state visit part of his three-day trip. On Wednesday and Thursday, he participates in a government-sponsored triennial interfaith meeting, that is gathering a lot more than 100 delegations of Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Shinto along with other faith groups from 50 countries.

The 85-year-old Francis made the trip despite what were an aggravation of the strained knee ligaments which have greatly reduced his mobility all year. Francis struggled to walk through the aisle of the aircraft through the 6.5-hour flight from Rome, and he appeared tired and in pain as he limped heavily along with his cane, ceding to a wheelchair for some events once around. Doctors have told him that for the moment, any more travel to Kyiv, for instance has gone out of the question.

Speaking upon his arrival to authorities and diplomats gathered at the Qazaq concert hall, Francis praised Kazakhstans commitment to diversity and dialogue and its own progress from decades of Stalinist repression, when Kazakhstan was the destination of thousands of Soviet deportees.

Francis said the united states, which borders Russia to the north and China to the east and houses some 150 ethnic groups and 80 languages, now includes a fundamental role to play in assisting ease conflicts elsewhere.

Recalling that St. John Paul II visited Kazakhstan just days following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S., Francis said he was visiting throughout the senseless and tragic war that broke out with the invasion of Ukraine.

I’ve arrived at echo the plea of most those that cry out for peace, that is the essential way to development for the globalized world, he said.

Directing himself at global superpowers, he said expanding efforts at diplomacy and dialogue were a lot more important. And the ones who hold greater power on the planet have greater responsibility pertaining to others, especially those countries most susceptible to unrest and conflict.


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This is the time to avoid intensifying rivalries and reinforcing opposing blocs, he said.

Tokayev didnt mention Ukraine specifically in his prepared remarks to Francis. But speaking in English, he referred generally terms about humanity being on an advantage of an abyss as geopolitical tensions escalate, global economy suffers, and mushrooming religious and ethnic intolerance becomes the brand new normal.

Kazakhstan has already established to walk a thin line with the war. Tokayev has vowed to respect Western sanctions against Russia while attempting to maintain close ties with Moscow, a significant economic partner and ally. Simultaneously, Tokayev refused to identify the Russia-backed separatist peoples republics in Ukraine which Moscow recognized days before invading Ukraine.

Probably the most noteworthy areas of Francis stop by at Kazakhstan might boil right down to the missed opportunities with both Russia and China: Francis was likely to have met with the top of the Russian Orthodox Church on the sidelines of the conference. But Patriarch Kirill, who has supported the war in Ukraine, canceled his trip last month.

Francis can be going to maintain the Kazakh capital simultaneously as Chinese President Xi Jinping, who’s making his first foreign trip since early in the coronavirus pandemic.

The Vatican and China havent had diplomatic relations for a half century and the timing is somewhat tense, with both sides finalizing the renewal of a controversial deal on the nominations of Catholic bishops in China.

The Vatican has said there have been no current plans for just about any meeting between Xi and Francis while these were both in Kazakhstan and the Kazakh deputy foreign minister, Roman Vassilenko said he didnt believe there is amount of time in Xis schedule to meet up with Francis.

Asked concerning the possibility on the way to Nur-Sultan, Francis said: I dont have any news concerning this. But I’m always all set to China.

The interfaith congress, now in its seventh iteration, is really a showpiece of Kazakhstans foreign policy and a reflection of its multicultural and multiethnic population which has always been touted as a crossroads between East and West.

When St. John Paul II visited in 2001, 10 years after independence, he highlighted Kazakhstans diversity while recalling its dark past under Stalinist repression: Entire villages of ethnic Poles were deported en masse from western Ukraine to Kazakhstan from 1936, and the Soviet government deported thousands of ethnic Germans, Chechens along with other accused Nazi collaborators to Kazakhstan during World War II. Most of the deportees descendants remained plus some of them constitute the countrys Catholic community, which only numbers about 125,000 in a country of nearly 19 million.

Sophia Gatovskaya, a parishioner at Our Lady Of Perpetual Help Cathedral in the administrative centre, said she attended that first papal visit and that it has borne fruits even today.

It had been actually amazing. And now visit, we’ve peace and tolerance inside our republic. We’ve plenty of nationalities in Kazakhstan, and most of us live together. And we expect exactly the same out of this visit (of Pope Francis) that people could have peace inside our republic. And we quite definitely expect that the war in Ukraine will end.


Associated Press religion coverage receives support through the APs collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely in charge of this article.

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