Kazakhstan, Bishop Dell’Oro: magnificence and charity, methods of dialogue

Archbishop Adelio Dell’Oro describes the challenges of the Catholic minority that await Pope Francis. In his testimony, he remembers the go to of John Paul II. within the nation in 2001, an instance of so many Christians persecuted by the Soviet regime, and his disappointment on the absence of Patriarch Kirill from the Congress of World and Conventional Religions.

Antonella Palermo – The Vatican

On Tuesday, September 13, Pope Francis leaves for Kazakhstan. Of the 19 million inhabitants, 70% are Muslim, 26% are Christian, principally Orthodox; the nation has virtually 120,000 Catholics. As soon as Catholic communities have been made up of assorted ethnic teams, together with former deportees from the Soviet regime, however after independence lots of them returned to their international locations of origin and right now, in Because of the financial scenario, this phenomenon of migration continues.

The arrival of Catholics from former Soviet republics

Expectations for the supreme pontiff are excessive among the many Catholic devoted. They’re divided into 4 dioceses, every of which bears the title of the cathedral that stands within the place and never of the geographical territory (Diocese of Our Woman of the Most Holy in Astana – Nur-Sultan, Diocese of the Holy Trinity in Almaty, Diocese of Karaganda and Apostolic Administration of Atyrau) for a complete of 70 parishes and 100 monks assist them. Teams of pilgrims are additionally anticipated from St. Petersburg, Moscow, Novosibirsk, Omsk and even Kyrgyzstan. On this numerically minuscule ecclesiastical actuality, there’s a important effervescent, as Bishop Adelio Dell’Oro of Karaganda explains, from a diocesan territory two and a half occasions bigger than Italy. He has been a parish priest right here for seven and a half years, since 1997 he has lived right here as a fidei donum priest.

The vastness of the territory of Kazakhstan presents nice challenges by way of evangelization. Within the mild of the Apostolic Structure Preach the gospelwhich emphasizes the missionary facet of the Church in all contexts, how do you expertise this extra stimulus in a rustic the place you’ve gotten been lively for a really very long time?

That bothers me essentially the most. As everybody is aware of, the Soviet regime skilled seventy years throughout which all types of spiritual expression have been banned and believers of assorted religions, not simply Catholics, have been pressured to reside the expertise of religion in secret. And we have now nice testimonies from this era. For instance, six years in the past, in September, a priest who was a buddy of Pope Wojtyla was beatified, amongst others Father Władysław Bukowiński, who served 13 and a half years within the Gulag after which, when he was launched, in Karaganda, he was very lively there as a result of they might not depart . Gulag survivors lived there, together with many Catholics. There was additionally a girl, Gertrude Detzel: she too spent 13 years within the camps and when she was liberated, she secretly organized many Catholic communities proper right here in Karaganda.

Final August, we began the diocesan course of for his beatification. Then in 1991 got here independence and everybody might lastly come out of hiding. Many monks additionally got here right here, invited particularly from Germany and Poland, to prepare church buildings, construct church buildings, and arrange parish life. I see right here, on the one hand, the braveness of the primary missionaries and, alternatively, the restrictions, particularly that they solely addressed, for example, Catholics of their very own nationality. Furthermore, it occurred that after independence many Catholics, particularly Germans and Poles, returned to their nation of origin. These communities, which have been very vigorous and really quite a few after 1991, have subsequently dwindled over time.

In mild of this historical past, my best concern is whether or not or not all of the sacrifices which have been requested of the generations of believers which have gone earlier than us have been price it. Are we destined to vanish? Or is the Lord asking us for one thing?

What’s your reply?

I appear to glimpse that we should always rejoice in the truth that in a as soon as atheist nation we might and might reside a religion, a religion that makes our life lovely, enticing, joyful and the way we are able to then be open – as Pope Benedict repeatedly says , repeated by Pope Francis – be enticing to everybody, together with Kazakhs, who symbolize 78% of the inhabitants and have a Muslim custom.

The 2 paths that I’ve tried to recommend to the monks, sisters and lay individuals within the diocese throughout my seven and a half years of ministry are magnificence and love. For example, the Karaganda Cathedral has the one massive and exquisite organ, a present from Austria (two others are within the music academies in Almaty and Astana). We normally maintain concert events of sacred organ music from April to October, roughly twice a month. The cathedral is crowded, persons are standing.

Because of this the guts of each individual, no matter his nationality, no matter his spiritual affiliation, has an enormous thirst for magnificence. Magnificence that leads you to the thriller, to God. One other instance is that on weekends all of the younger {couples} – Muslim, Orthodox, Protestant – come to take footage with the cathedral within the background, which was constructed within the trendy Gothic model, very lovely and spectacular. Typically they do not even know the place they arrive from. I meet them to want them good luck and ask them: however why did you come right here? And so they marvel: the place in our cities can we discover such a ravishing fort? And that turns into a motive to start out a dialogue with them as effectively.

Then there’s charity. We can not do something as a church outdoors the boundaries of our parish church buildings. This additionally applies to different religions within the metropolis. Once we arrange conferences of monks or spiritual sisters, we can not, as was potential within the 90s, lease premises (sanatoriums, nursing houses…) that have been nonetheless utilized in Soviet occasions. We have now to prepare inside our buildings as a result of freedom of faith just isn’t fairly there but. However when a person comes with an pressing want, I’m certain that via this piece of bread or this drugs that we may give them, it’s the love of Christ for them that permeates.

Are you able to inform us a private reminiscence of what struck you essentially the most once you started your mission on this earth? And what have you ever been in a position to respect essentially the most about this individuals, a crossroads of different peoples and cultures, over time?

Once I arrived right here I discovered nice destruction, the fruit of the agony of the Soviet Union. You awoke within the morning and did not know if there was chilly water or scorching water or even when there was water. I bear in mind one week, 40 levels beneath zero within the streets, no heating. The town didn’t mild up at night time, the electrical energy was there and it was not… What shocked me essentially the most was the destruction of the accountability of the human individual. The Soviet man in his final years was now not accountable for something. It was the case for adults, however the reverse is true for youth. And it’s the most lovely factor that has ever occurred to me. I had the chance to show Italian language and tradition at Karaganda State College for six years. I bear in mind the will, the thirst that younger individuals needed to give which means to their lives. Not with books, however with well-liked Italian songs, with Italian delicacies, getting ready spaghetti, pizza, tiramisù, they felt that there was one thing they hadn’t discovered earlier than, and so they began coming.

We met, studied, sang, rented a room the place I went each Friday. And from there, a flood of questions was born. That, for my part, is the largest miracle I’ve seen, that their lives have modified. They did not know why, the very fact is that their life grew to become lovely. I bear in mind a younger man from Kazakhstan who after ten years mentioned: “It’s Jesus, it’s Jesus who has modified my life, I’m asking for baptism!”. And with him many others. I wish to add that Kazakh persons are individuals of very, very humanity, with a really nice capability to simply accept, particularly the aged. It is spectacular. the phrase “Kazakh“slang means”wanderer”,one who strikes within the steppe’, ‘nomad’. It’s doubtless that within the dwelling circumstances of their ancestors, they inherited these human values ​​that one way or the other remained with them.

What reminiscences do you’ve gotten of visiting the nation of John Paul II. 21 years in the past? And the way has Kazakhstan modified in an ecclesiastical, ecumenical and social sense?

This go to, which nobody anticipated in the previous few days, was spectacular. There was the tragic episode of the September 11 terrorist assault… Everybody, from the president to essentially the most bizarre individuals, appreciated the Pope’s determination and braveness to return, regardless of this case of world worry. One factor should be added: nobody knew who the Pope of Rome, the chief of Catholics world wide, was. At the moment, the phone and the Web have been simply starting to look. In spite of everything, in Europe we did not even know the place Kazakhstan was. However curiosity and the will to know mobilized so many individuals. And there should have been about 40,000 individuals on the mass. Many issues have modified lately.

How do you react to the introduced absence of Patriarch Kirill on the Congress of Leaders of World and Conventional Religions?

With nice sorrow and ache, as a result of on the sidelines of this Congress of Religions, if each have been current, Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill would inevitably meet. And after the assembly that they had on-line [à Cuba, ndlr], it actually might have been a really, very highly effective and penetrating alternative to move judgment on what was occurring from an apolitical however actually spiritual perspective. I additionally consider Muslims from this viewpoint: if God is one, we’re all his little kids, and subsequently brothers and sisters amongst us. And so, because the Pope calls, conflict is essentially the most horrible and unimaginable factor that exists. Particularly when it occurs between Christian nations.

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