Vatican City (Fides Service) - Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Pope’s Secretary of State, is visiting Kazakhstan from 16-19 May at the invitation of President Nursultan Nazarbayev and the local Catholic Bishops to mark the 2nd anniversary of history making visit by Pope John Paul II in 2001.
On Saturday 17 May Cardinal Sodano will pay a visit to the President after which he will celebrate Mass at the Catholic Cathedral in Astana and have a meeting with the Catholic clergy and religious and laity. His agenda includes also visits to the Orthodox church and a Mosque. On Sunday 18 May in Karaganda the Cardinal will preside a solemn celebration of Mass and bless the foundation stone for a Catholic cathedral and visit the Mary Queen of the Church seminary. On Monday, in Karaganda the Cardinal will celebrate Mass and meet the local priests and religious. Before leaving Karaganda he will visit the Greek Catholic church and the convent of Discalsed Carmelite nuns.
According to the Church Book of Statistics Kazakhstan has a population of 16,170,000 of whom 180,000 are Catholics, gathered in 4 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 37 parishes, 8 mission stations assisted by 37 diocesan priests, 22 religious priests, 7 Brothers, 62 nuns, 11 lay missionaries and 50 catechists. There are 14 major seminarians. SL (Fides Service 16/5/2003 EM lines 20 Words: 258)