Kazakhstan Meeting "a Fruit of Pope's Visit"

ASTANA, Kazakhstan, SEPT. 26, 2003 (Zenit.org).- For two days, the Kazakhstani capital caught the spirit of Assisi.

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On Tuesday and Wednesday, Astana was the host for an interreligious meeting whose participants included a delegation from the Holy See.

In statements to the Fides agency, Archbishop Tomasz Peta of Astana described the meeting as having been «promoted and organized by President Nursultan Narzabayev.»

The archbishop said he was convinced that the event was «a fruit of the Pope’s visit to our country in 2001. We hope the meeting will bring fruits of peace. The Pope teaches us that dialogue between religions is an important instrument for building peace.»

Kazakhstanis belong to some 130 ethnic groups, 60% of whom are Muslim.

«We need to cultivate dialogue and communion,» Archbishop Peta said. «We are happy that our civil authorities recognize the Pope as a major moral authority at the world level and that they have undertaken this initiative in keeping with the spirit of Assisi where the first interreligious meeting for peace was held.»

The Holy See delegation was led by Cardinal Jozef Tomko, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Participants in the meeting reflected on the Second Vatican Council declaration «Nostra Aetate.»

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