From April 27 to April 29, 2022, a historic event will take place in Kazakhstan: more than ten Catholic Bishops and Apostolic Administrators representing 10 countries will gather to hold the first meeting (plenary session) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Mongolia). This is due to the administrative reform (Decree of September 8, 2021) carried out by the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples of the Holy See (Vatican). A new international bishops’ conference will bring together Catholics from several Central Asian regions and will carry out pastoral functions on their behalf.
This meeting will be attended by: Archbishop Francis Assisi Chullikatt (Apostolic Nuncio of Kazakhstan), Archbishop Alfred Xereb (Apostolic Nuncio of South Korea), Bishop Giorgio Marengo, IMC (Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar), Bishop Vladimir Fekete, S.D.B. (Apostolic Prefect of Azerbaijan), Father Giovanni Scalese, CRSP (responsible for the Mission sui iuris in Afghanistan), Archbishop Jan Piotrovsky (Ordinary of the Diocese of Kielce, Poland), Bishop Jose Luis Mumbiela Sierra (Chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Kazakhstan, Ordinary of the Diocese of the Holy Trinity in Almaty), Bishop Adelio Del’Oro (Ordinary of the Diocese of Karaganda), Bishop Evgeny Zinkovsky (Auxiliary Bishop of the Karaganda Diocese), Archbishop Tomash Peta (Ordinary of the Archdiocese of Mary Most Holy in Astana), Bishop Athanasius Schneider (Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Mary Most Holy in Astana), Bishop Jerzy Maculewicz (Apostolic Administrator of Uzbekistan), Mitred Archpriest Vasyl Hovera (Apostolic Administrator for Catholics of the Byzantine Rite in Kazakhstan and Middle Asia), Father Peter Sakmar (Apostolic Administrator of Atyrau Apostolic Administration), Father Andrzej Madej (Primate of Mission sui iuris in Turkmenistan), Father Anthony Corcoran, SJ (Apostolic Administrator in Kyrgyzstan), Father Pedro Ramiro Lopez, I.V.E. (Head of mission sui iuris in Tajikistan).
The Bishops’ Conference (hereinafter referred to as the BC) is a permanent organ (in the status of a legal entity) of the Catholic Church (hereinafter referred to as the CC), uniting the Catholic bishops of a country or a certain territory, established by the Holy See to coordinate activities in this territory. A bishop is a clergyman who leads a diocese (a separate part of the CC within certain geographical boundaries) in cooperation with all the priests of the diocese.
The objectives of the Bishops’ Conference are:
- to determine the rules of church life that are common for all BC member countries (terms and order of the catechumenate, the age of admission to the sacraments, the norms for collecting donations, the principles of managing church property, some issues of church justice);
- to prepare translations of liturgical books into modern languages to be approved by the Holy See;
- to introduce a living ecclesiastical witness in the societies of the countries belonging to the BC;
- to provide the solutions of issues (such as the ecumenical cooperation for Christian unity, education, charitable and social work, interreligious dialogue and environmental issues) that are crucial for the evangelization and inculturation of the Gospel in the context of the times and lives of people in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Mongolia.
At the first meeting of the United Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Central Asia its Charter will also be developed. Among other things it will provide the procedure for holding plenary meetings of the conference and the work of the permanent council of bishops and the general secretariat of the conference, as well as other services and commissions that contribute to more successful achievement of its goals. At the first plenary meeting the BC President who will represent the BC in its relations with all stakeholders will also be selected. The participants of the Bishops’ Conference will also visit places of significance for Catholics in Karaganda, as well as the National Shrine of the Queen of Peace in Ozernoye, where they will dedicate Central Asia to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Bishops-members of the BC will hold meetings at least once a year to cooperate through the exchange of opinions, experiences and advice for the common good of the Church and humanity.