Schedule for Pope's Trip to Kazakhstan and Armenia

VATICAN, Jul 24, 01 ( - The Vatican has released the official schedule for the visit by Pope John Paul II to Kazakhstan and Armenia, September 22- 27.

The Holy Father will leave Rome on Saturday morning, September 22. After a flight of about 6 hours, he will arrive in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, in the early evening.

On Tuesday morning he will travel to Yerevan, Armenia, arriving there in the afternoon. He will make the return flight to Rome on Thursday evening, arrive at Ciampino airport at 8:45 after a four-hour flight.

Informed Vatican sources offered a few more details-- not officially confirmed-- about the papal schedule for the Kazakhstan leg of his trip.

Pope John Paul will be greeted at the Astana airport by Kazakhstan's president. He will proceed immediately to a monument built to honor the victims of Communist repression, where the Pontiff will pay his respects. On Sunday morning, he will celebrate Mass in a public park in Astana, and that evening he will meet with young people at the Euroasian University. On Monday the Pope will celebrate Mass with the clergy and religious of Kazakhstan in the cathedral at Astana, and later he will meet with the nation's scientific and cultural leaders.

Kazakhstan, which gained its independence in 1991, has a population of over 16 million, of whom less than 2 percent are Catholic. An apostolic administration was established in 1991, soon after independence, to serve that Catholic population. The vast majority of citizens in the former Soviet republic are either Muslim (about 47 percent) or Orthodox (44 percent).

In Armenia, too, the Pope will find a small Catholic minority, representing about 4 percent of the country's 3.5 million people. However, the Holy See enjoys extremely close relations with the Armenian Apostolic Church, and the Pope's visit is seen as an important opportunity for forging still stronger ecumenical ties.

Catholic World News Service - Vatican Update
24. juli 2001

av Webmaster publisert 06.08.2001, sist endret 06.08.2001 - 14:32