Vatican Secretary of State Travels to Kazakhstan

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, leaves for Kazakhstan, invited by the republic's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, in commemoration of John Paul II's trip in 2001.



Two members of the executive, representing the Kazakhstani government, Erzhan Utembaev and Alexiei Kekshaev, accompanied the Cardinal during the special flight from Rome to Astana, the capital. Cardinal Sodano had received an official invitation from the country's ordinary and the president of the republic.

On Saturday, May 17, the Vatican secretary of state will make an official visit to the head of state, celebrate Mass in the Astana Cathedral, and meet with priests, religious, and the capital's Catholic community. In addition, the cardinal is scheduled to visit the Orthodox Church and the mosque.

On Sunday, May 18, Cardinal Sodano will preside over a solemn concelebration of the Eucharist in the city of Karaganda. He will bless the foundation stone of the new Cathedral Church, and visit the Mary Queen of the Church Seminary.

On Monday, May 19, during his concluding Mass in Karaganda, he will meet with priests and religious working in the diocese. Before returning to Rome, Cardinal Sodano will visit the Greek-Catholic Church and the convent of the Discalced Carmelite Sisters in Karaganda.