Astana (Agenzia Fides) - "Dear brothers and sisters, it is with great joy and great hope that we have received the message that the Holy Father Francis will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Motivated out of the need to redouble our prayers for peace and universal brotherhood, we invite you once again to join the intentions of the Holy Father on the occasion of this important and significant initiative". This is the letter, sent to Fides, that the Bishops and Ordinaries of the Church of Kazakhstan addressed to all the faithful of the Central Asian country, inviting them to join the Celebration of Penance that Pope Francis will preside over on March 25 in St. Peter's Basilica, when the pontiff will deliver the solemn act of consecration of the two nations at war to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
"According to the possibilities of each local reality - the letter continues - it is possible to organize, at the same time, prayers in parishes or communities, to follow a live broadcast through the media, or simply to join spiritually and through prayer to this act which will lead us to the victory of peace and forgiveness. With our prayers and our solidarity, we embrace our brothers and sisters on both sides, victims of violent and fratricidal acts, in the conviction that 'God is love and whoever abides in love abides in God' (Jn 4:16)".
In the message, the Bishops also thanked the community of the faithful for their generosity in sending aid to the Ukrainian people, carried out through Caritas, and invited them to continue their work of solidarity in favor of the people who are suffering and refugees. There are four Catholic dioceses in Kazakhstan, with a total of 70 parishes. The country has 91 priests, including 61 diocesan and 30 religious. Catholics are a small minority. According to official data provided by the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, of the country's more than 17 million inhabitants, about 26% are Christians, of whom 1% are Catholics. (LF-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 23/3/2022)