Astana (Agenzia Fides) - Kazakh President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, invited Pope Francis to participate in the VI Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Astana in October. Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev, speaker of the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan has given the invitation to the Secretary of State of Vatican, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who has also been invited to attend the forum. The Vatican Secretary of State - according to the press service of the chamber, thanked him for the invitation, noting that the forum "is gaining popularity in the world", and assured that the Vatican will continue to support the efforts of the President of Kazakhstan on establishment of peace and harmony among followers of all creeds". On 10 and 11 October Astana will host the sixth congress, titled ‘Religious Leaders for a Safe World’.
The First Congress of World and National Traditional Religions was convened by President Nazarbaiev in Astana on 23 and 24 September 2003. On that occasion, high-level delegates sent by 17 religious and confessional institutions from around the world sat at the big round table in the hall of Saltanat Saraiy, the palace of ceremonies, including red tapestries and turquoise columns, to "relaunch" the slogans of dialogue and religious freedom from the heart of Eurasia, ie close to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Azerbaijan, in that Central Asian area which for the theorists of the clash among civilizations represented the epicenter of all ethnic-religious conflicts that disturb the globalized world. That Congress, was inspired by the model for the World Day of Prayer for Peace convened in Assisi by John Paul II on January 24, 2002, to reaffirm the positive contribution of the different religious traditions to dialogue and concord between peoples and nations. Also the two days of Astana had the intent to refute the post-September 11 mental climate. Already on that occasion, the Holy See was represented at the interreligious forum of Astana by a high-level delegation led by Cardinal Jozef Tomko (who was Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 1985 to 2001, and at the time President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses). (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 8/6/2018)