Pope calls on traditional Kazakh musical instrument to talk about mission of peace

The two strings of the dombra are a call to shape the harmony from two parallel strings.

Religious freedom is the “best channel for civil coexistence,” Pope Francis told Kazakh authorities gathered at the Kazakh Nur-Sultan Concert Hall on September 13, 2022. In the presence of Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, he hailed the “healthy secularism” of this Central Asian country which “recognizes the important and indispensable role of religion and resists the forms of extremism which disfigure it”.

After being received by the Kazakh head of state at the Ak Orda presidential palace, the 85-year-old pontiff went to the large concert hall where political, diplomatic and religious representatives of the country were waiting for him.

The pope thanked the authorities for their invitation to participate in the 7th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, an interreligious summit bringing together some 100 spiritual representatives from around the world, which he described as a place to promote harmony and Peace.

I would like to express my appreciation for the affirmation of the value of human life embodied by the abolition of the death penalty in the name of the right to hope of every human being. Along with this, it is important to guarantee freedom of thought, conscience and expression, in order to enable each individual to play their unique and equal role in the service of society as a whole.


Drawing inspiration from the image of the dombra, a two-stringed instrument characteristic of the region since the Middle Ages, the Pontiff underlined its vocation as a meeting place, born, he said, from the painful memory of the gulags where, in the 20th century, many people were deported en masse by the Soviet authorities.

Kazakhstan is known for its ability to constantly create harmony between “two parallel strings”…

For François, “one hears in this country the ‘notes’ of two souls, Asian and European, which give it a ‘permanent mission to connect two continents’”.

Without mentioning the neighboring countries, especially China and Russia, the Pope considered that this situation as a bridge between East and West destined it to play a fundamental role in mitigating conflicts.

The Supreme Pontiff specifically cited the “senseless and tragic war” caused by the invasion of Ukraine, as well as other ongoing clashes around the world.

Lamenting the effect of these conflicts on developing countries, the Bishop of Rome called for amplifying the cry of those calling for peace, urging leaders to infuse multilateral organizations with “a new spirit of Helsinki” in reference at the 1975 conference.

He insisted on the fact that this commitment is everyone’s responsibility, because “one’s problem is everyone’s problem” and therefore requires a dialogue with everyone.


Against nuclear armament

While the question of the risk of nuclear conflict was raised in the context of the war in Ukraine, the Sovereign Pontiff welcomed the choice made by Kazakhstan to renounce nuclear weapons.

Although it had nuclear weapons at the time of its independence in 1991, the country voluntarily chose to dismantle this part of its arsenal, a remnant of the Soviet era.

Pope Francis also praised the Central Asian country’s commitment to “energy and environmental” policies and addressed the energy issue, which is at the heart of this resource-rich nation.

On this point, the Sovereign Pontiff denounced that “integral development is hostage to a generalized injustice, through which resources are unequally distributed”.

He called on the state and the private sector not to limit economic development to the gains of the few.

Pope Francis then returned to the Apostolic Nunciature where he will sleep for the two nights of his stay in Nour-Sultan. Tomorrow, he will participate in the VII Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.

The Supreme Pontiff sometimes gave the impression of being tired after the 6.30 a.m. flight which puts him four hours ahead of Rome. He showed some difficulty getting up and sitting down from his wheelchair.

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