Kazakhstan protests: Masses and prayers held across the country
By Vatican News staff writer
Across Kazakhstan on Thursday, the clergy of the Archdiocese of Astana, including in the capital Nur-Sultan, celebrated Mass "to pray for the victims and for peace in our beloved Kazakhstan".
The initiative came from Astana's Archbishop Tomasz Peta, who in a message broadcast on national television on Monday, called on his fellow citizens to "do everything possible to peacefully resolve the current crisis in the country".
In his message, pronounced in Russian and sent to the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACS), the pastor of the Archdiocese of Mary Most Holy of Astana, which covers the northern territory of Kazakhstan, lamented the tragic incidents of recent weeks, in the course of which nearly 200 people lost their lives. "We mourn the victims," he said.
Archbishop Peta himself celebrated Mass for this intention at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the capital Nur-Sultan, formerly known as Astana. He also recalled that "on Sunday, after the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis spoke about the incidents in Kazakhstan.
He entrusted Kazakhstan to the protection of Our Lady Queen of Peace of Oziornoje. Following the Pope's appeal, we too want to ask for peace through the intercession of the Patroness of our country, the Queen of Peace."
Situation in Kazakhstan
Sources have reported to Aid to the Church in Need that the situation in Nur-Sultan is currently fairly calm, while Almaty, in the south of the country, where the clashes were more serious, is still reporting difficulties in communication via the internet and mobile devices.
Despite these difficulties, the Bishop of Almaty and President of the Bishops' Conference of Kazakhstan, Bishop José Luis Mumbiela, was able to join the call to prayer on the national day of mourning for the victims.
In a message sent in Russian to Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Mumbiela said, "Here in Almaty we thank you all for your prayers, compassion, and concern," he said. "We want to remember in our prayers those who suffered the most during the last week. During those days and nights, Almaty was foggy because of the weather conditions, but there was also fog in the hearts of many people", he said in his message The prelate described the news as a fog or mist that makes it difficult to understand what is happening and how it could have happened. "The people of Kazakhstan, especially in Almaty, did not deserve anything like this".
The Bishop added, "We must remember that peace is in our hands and depends on us. Blessed are the peacemakers. Let us not limit ourselves to praying for peace, but let us create peace for others with God's help". To this end, he continued, "let us try to rebuild the Kazakhstan that we all dream of together, with all the people of this country and this city, an international and interreligious Kazakhstan, a Kazakhstan of peace and harmony".
Bishop Adelio Dell'Oro of Karaganda, in the centre-east of the country, recalled, in particular, the victims of his diocese, "where so many people have shed their blood", and stressed that "violence will not lead to a new society, to a new world".
The Bishop concluded by urging people to pray "for all the victims, hoping that everything will be resolved in peace, with justice and for the good of all".