The most noteworthy aspects of Pope Francis’ visit to Kazakhstan might be the missed opportunities.
By Nicole Winfield and Kostya Manenkov
The Diplomat (13.09.2022) – https://bit.ly/3LbbRr6 – Russia’s war in Ukraine and the Holy See’s strained relations with China are the backdrop to Pope Francis’ visit this week to the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan, where he is ministering to a tiny Catholic community and participating in an interfaith conference aimed at promoting peace and dialogue.
Francis was flying Tuesday to the Kazakh capital of Nur-Sultan to meet with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev during the state visit portion of the three-day trip. On Wednesday and Thursday, he participates in an interfaith meeting with more than 100 delegations of Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Shinto, and other faith groups from 50 countries.
The most noteworthy aspects of Francis’ visit might be missed opportunities: Francis was supposed to have met with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church on the sidelines of the conference. But Patriarch Kirill, who has justified the war in Ukraine, canceled his trip last month.
Francis is also going to be in the Kazakh capital at the same time as Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is making his first foreign visit since the coronavirus pandemic.
Xi is not attending the religious congress. On the pope’s flight to Kazakhstan, Francis was asked about a possible meeting with Xi and replied: “I don’t have any news about this. But I am always ready to go to China.”
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