Almaty (Agenzia Fides) - "The Easter season brings with it many reasons for joy: the first is the fact that, after two years of pandemic, we were finally able to celebrate Holy Week and Divine Mercy Sunday under normal conditions. Almost all restrictions have been lifted: in the Almaty area there are still cases of Covid-19, but the number is very low, so participation in liturgies is back to what it was before.The second reason for joy is that on Easter night we baptized eleven adults in our Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity in Almaty. This gives us great enthusiasm: it is a sign that, in Kazakhstan, the people of God continue to grow in number and, above all, in quality, that it is the most important thing". This is what Msgr. José Luis Mumbiela Sierra, Bishop of the Diocese of Almaty and President of the Episcopal Conference of Kazakhstan, explains to Fides.
In addition, the bishop points out, there is a third reason for joy: "The great news that arrived during Holy Week is that Pope Francis will visit Nursultan, the Kazakh capital, next September. It will be a very special moment that will undoubtedly bear much fruit in this country and beyond. The visit of the Holy Father to this land is very symbolic and I think it is a strong call to universal brotherhood, understood not as a poetic concept, but as a concrete and necessary call to create an authentic union between peoples and feelings of reconciliation. Remember that to achieve peace, you must first be reconciled: I think it is a complicated but important issue at this time. In the Diocese of Almaty, the faithful gather in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. There is also a small church in the city, dating back to Soviet times, which is not operational at the moment, but is intended to house the Sisters of Mother Teresa, while another church not yet registered is under construction.
Opus Dei, Communion and Liberation and the Secular Franciscan Order are also active in the city. In Kazakhstan there are 4 Catholic dioceses, with a total of 70 parishes. There are 91 priests in the country, of whom 61 are diocesan and 30 religious. According to official data from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of the more than 17 million inhabitants of the country, about 26% are Christians, and 1% of them are Catholics. (LF/PA) (Agenzia Fides, 25/4/2022)