Pope Benedict XVI sends particle of St. Andrew’s relics as a gift to the Russian Orthodox Church, RIA Novosti reported with reference to the Austrian agency Kathpress.
A reliquary with relics intended for Metropolitan District of the ROC in Kazakhstan, will be brought to Astana by the second to the Pope leading person in the Catholic hierarchy - Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
The solemn ceremony of handing over of the relics will be held on the Feast Day of Saint Andrew on November 30 at the Assumption Cathedral of Astana. The ceremony will be attended from the Orthodox party by Metropolitan Alexander, the Metropolia head, with the Orthodox episcopate and from the Catholic party – by the Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Apostolic Nuncio to Kazakhstan and Central Asia Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendía, Catholic bishops of Kazakhstan. The ceremony is expected to be attended by representatives of the governmental authorities of the country.
Experts note that Orthodox-Catholic Relations in Kazakhstan improved significantly in recent years.
Muslims predominate in Kazakhstan, the population of which is about 16 million people (according to the Statistics Agency of the Republic, Islam is practiced by 70%). More than 26% of population are Christians most of them refer themselves to the ROC.
The Assumption Cathedral in Astana, consecrated by Patriarch Cyril in January this year, is the largest Christian Church in Central Asia. It’s height - 68 meters, the area - two thousand square meters. The cathedral’s capacity is about four thousand believers.