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Kazak priest optimistic about increased religious freedom

Catholic World News - December 02, 2010

A Franciscan missionary priest serving in Kazakhstan has told the Fides news agency that he is optimistic that Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s visit to the nation will help increase the religious freedom experienced by the Church there.

“The Catholic community in recent months has underlined the hopes for two important issues that affect our lives: the first is the difficulty in the issue and renewal of visas to foreign missionaries,” said Father Guido Trezzani. “They are often restricted to three-month tourist visas, having to leave the country and return after another three months, with results of clear precariousness and instability for the pastoral care work.”

“Then there are the limitations to freedom of religion, while understandable from a state that wants to prevent the spread of extremist groups, present in the Central Asian region,” he added. “But in doing so, you also penalize religious minorities such as our Church, which does not constitute any danger.”

1.3% of the nation’s 15.9 million people are Catholic, according to Vatican statistics; 47% are Muslim, and 44% are Russian Orthodox.

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