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Interreligious Dialogue ‘Urgently Needed,’ Pope Francis Says at Close of Kazakhstan Congress…

On Sept. 15, Pope Francis also blessed an icon depicting Mary and the Child Jesus as native Kazakhs, entrusting the Church in Kazakhstan and all of Central Asia to Our Lady.

The triptych — or three-part artwork — depicting the Kazakh-faced Mother of God and Child is known as “The Mother of the Great Steppe.” 

In his final speech of the trip on Thursday, Pope Francis said the good of humanity needs to come before other political, economic, and military objectives.

“Pope John Paul II, who visited Kazakhstan 21 years ago this very month, stated that ‘for the Church all ways lead to man’ and that man is ‘the way for the Church,’” Francis said, quoting paragraph 14 of “Redemptor Hominis.”

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Pope Francis speaking at the 7th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, Sept. 15, 2022. Vatican media
Pope Francis speaking at the 7th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, Sept. 15, 2022. Vatican media

“I would like to say that today man is also the way for all the religions,” he said. “Yes, man, men and women, concrete human beings, weakened by the pandemic, worn out by war, wounded by indifference. Human beings, frail and marvelous creatures, who, ‘once God is forgotten, are left in darkness’ and apart from others cannot survive.”

“The good of humanity should be taken into consideration ahead of strategic and economic objectives, national, energy and military interests, and in advance of crucial decisions,” he said.

The pope noted that the Catholic Church, “which tirelessly proclaims the inviolable dignity of each person, created ‘in the image of God,’ also believes in the unity of the human family.”

Quoting from “Nostra aetate,” a declaration of the Second Vatican Council, Francis said: “The Church believes that all ‘humanity forms but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock that God created to people the entire earth, and because all share a common destiny, namely God. His providence, evident goodness, and saving designs extend to all mankind.’”

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