Pope Francis was in Kazakhstan last week, where he attended a high-profile meeting of interfaith leaders and, while refraining from naming aggressors directly, sent a clear message to Russian civil and ecclesial authorities on the war in Ukraine.
Under the right moral conditions, a country has the right to purchase weapons to defend itself from those who attack it, Pope Francis said.
The strength of the Catholic Church in Central Asia is measured not in numbers, but by the diversity of its people, Pope Francis said.
As war, violence and extremism in countries around the world threaten the lives of countless men, women and children, religions must rise above differences and be examples of peace and harmony, Pope Francis said.
Arriving in Kazakhstan, a country that borders Russia, Pope Francis said he came as a “pilgrim of peace” at a time when “our world urgently needs peace; it needs to recover harmony.”
Pope Francis plans to make his long-awaited visit to Ukraine before his trip to Kazakhstan in September, said Andrii Yurash, Ukraine’s ambassador to the Holy See.
Pope Francis’ September visit to Kazakhstan will mostly focus on a gathering of religious leaders from around the world, but it will also include a Mass and meeting with Catholics in this Muslim-majority nation.
Protestors representing ethnic minority groups under the control of China gathered Dec. 10 near the United Nations headquarters to assail China’s government for alleged crackdowns on friends and family in their homelands. Religious freedom was among their top concerns.