Astana (Fides Service) – For two days, 23 and 24 September the Spirit of Assisi blew in Astana the capital of Kazakhstan, during an interreligious meeting attended by a delegation from the Holy See.
Speaking to Fides Archbishop Tomasz Peta of Astana said “The meeting is promoted and organised by President Nursultan Narzabayev and it is surely 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”.
Our country – the Archbishop continued – has people of some 130 different ethnic groups, 60% Muslim. We need to cultivate dialogue and communion. We are happy that our civil authorities recognise 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, led by Cardinal Jozef Tomko, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, comprises Archbishops Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Pier Luigi Celata, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue; Jozef Wesolowski, apostolic nuncio in Kazakhstan, Tomasz Peta, archbishop of Astana; Msgr. Julio Murat of the Secretariat of State and Fr. Jozef Maj, S.J., of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
The meeting will reflect on the Vatican II document 'Nostra Aetate' which says: the Church 'urges her sons to enter with prudence and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions. Let Christians, while witnessing to their own faith and way of life, acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians, also their social life and culture'(n.2).
In such a spirit, His Holiness John Paul II, in his 25 years of pontificate, has met numerous religious leaders with the aim of promoting in the world spiritual and moral values, thus favouring reconciliation and peace among peoples. Last year, in calling the representatives of the world's religions to Assisi, His Holiness repeated that 'it is a duty for religious persons and communities to repudiate, in the clearest and most emphatic fashion, violence, all violence, starting with that which pretends to cloak itself in piety, even to calling on the holy name of God to offend man’. PA (Fides Service 22/9/2003 EM lines 36 Words: 393)