Bishop Adelio Dell’Oro of Karaganda shares in the expectation of Kazakhs for the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to Kazakhstan and its great joy and blessing for all.
"Holy Father brings with him a contribution to peace and solidarity in the world," said Bishop Dell’Oro.
After Pope Francis alluded to the possibility of a visit to Kazakhstan on his flight back to Rome from Canada, the Holy See Press Office confirmed that the Holy Father will be embarking on an Apostolic Journey to the Central Asian country from September 13 to 15.
The Pope's upcoming visit will see him present in Kazakhstan on the occasion of the VII Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, taking place in Nur-Sultan, the Kazakh capital.
"We were anxiously awaiting this official statement that was given by both the Holy See and the President of Kazakhstan," said the prelate.
Explaining his expectation of the announcement, he recalled that the Holy Father had previously expressed his wish to visit the country when he, along with other priests of the diocese of Milan, met with the Pope in Santa Marta in a two-hour meeting on July 14.
The Bishop said that when he was given the floor to speak on that occasion, he told the Pope that the people were eagerly waiting for him in Kazakhstan, and the Pope, in reply, expressed his wish that he would visit the country.
"Now, we are waiting for the Pope with all our hearts, with the hope that he can give us and the world a contribution of peace and solidarity," said Bishop Dell’Oro.
The bishop said preparations for the Pope’s visit are still in their earliest stages, and the country’s bishops are still waiting for the official program to be released.
However, Bishop Dell’Oro affirms that Kazakhstan President Sadyr Japarov has already asked the heads of the country’s regions to assist all those who would want to go to meet the Pope, including by providing transportation.
Reflecting on the country, the Bishop notes that Kazakhstan is "a country where people of over 130 nationalities and many religions live." In this light, it presents "a very great ecumenical possibility for Pope Francis."
The VII Congress of World Leaders and Traditional Religions is expected to bring together religious and civil leaders from all over the globe.
The first Pope to travel to Kazakhstan was Pope St. John Paul II in September 2001.
Recalling that event 21 years ago, Bishop Dell'Oro said that there was a great curiosity in people to meet the Pope, but, today, globalization, especially at the level of young people, has dampened that curiosity.
People today are aware of the happenings around the world much more than before, and "there is this desire to meet a person who has an authoritative voice at a global level," the bishop noted. - With inputs from Vatican News
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