Kazakhstan waiting for the Pope with wonder and enthusiasm
The Government and local religious leaders in Kazakhstan are keenly anticipating Pope John Paul's pastoral visit to the country at the end of next month.
"Even before the official announcement by the Holy See regarding John Paul II's pastoral visit, we met with almost total availability on the part of the government and Kazak society in general," said Italian missionary in Kazakhstan Fr Edoardo Canetta, "At the same time we have seen tangible signs of lively interest, even enthusiasm, on the part of the local Lutherans, Baptists and other Protestant communities. The Grand Mufti, spiritual leader of Muslims in Kazakhstan, is showing keen interest, even coming forward with constructive proposals."
He said that even the Orthodox church had a positive attitude towards the Holy Father's visit.
Kazakhstan has a population of 15.5 million, including 180,000 registered Catholics. The apostolic administration of Kazakhstan was created in 1991. In 1999, Pope John Paul II created a diocese and three apostolic administrations.