Source: Agenzia Fides – MIL OSI
Headline: ASIA/KYRGYZSTAN – Pastoral Letter for the new year: “Christ is faithful to his Church and offers great opportunities for grace, in the challenge of the pandemic”
Bishkek – “2020 brought with it unprecedented challenges: many people fell ill, others continue to face serious economic difficulties. Our country went through political and social upheavals. For many, the worst part of this period was having to coexist with great uncertainty about the future. Some may have started to waver in hope or to be challenged in their faith, wondering where God is and why He is allowing this to happen. The Church continues to seek light in times of darkness. Christ is always faithful and He alone has the last word in our life and in our world. We do not know what 2021 will bring us, but we believe that God will continue to be faithful to His Church and will help us take advantage of the difficulties of our daily life to allow us to draw closer to Him and to each other. God is Light”. This is what the Jesuit Fr. Anthony Corcoran, Apostolic Administrator of Kyrgyzstan affirmed, in the pastoral letter issued on the occasion of the New Year 2021, sent to Agenzia Fides. In his message, the Jesuit underlined the presence of the Church alongside the faithful during the most difficult moments of the pandemic: “We have all witnessed extraordinary acts of charity and kindness. The Church has managed to provide assistance to many people in need, not just Christians but also of other faiths. There have been opportunities for knowledge and collaboration born in the midst of the pandemic. Our communities were able to guarantee certain hospitals the supply of necessary instruments. The Children’s Rehabilitation Center in Issyk-Kul has been made available to doctors, nurses and volunteers who generously served the sick during this period of the epidemic. As a Catholic community, we have managed to ‘come together’ virtually every day. Christ offers His Church great opportunities of grace during critical periods and last year witnessed His fidelity to us, His little Church in Kyrgyzstan”. The letter was delivered to the faithful by Father Remigiusz Kalski, parish priest of the church of St. Michael the Archangel in Bishkek, on the occasion of the solemn Christmas Mass. As reported to Fides, the celebration was attended by faithful of different ages and nationalities: “The local community and the many brothers and sisters from other countries, gathered around the altar of the Lord, underlined the universality of the Church”. At the end of the celebration, a moment of fraternity was held, with the exchange of gifts and the sharing of “Christmas bread”, according to the tradition of some ethnic groups present in Kyrgyzstan, including the Slovaks, Poles, Lithuanians, Belarusians and Ukrainians. In Kyrgyzstan there are currently three parishes in the towns of Bishkek, Jalal-Abad and Talas, but many small communities are present in the rural areas of the country. Local Catholics can count on the spiritual assistance of seven priests, a religious and five Franciscan nuns. In 1997, Pope John Paul II established the Mission sui iuris, as happened for the neighboring states of Central Asia. In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI elevated the ecclesiastical circumscription to the rank of Apostolic Administration. In addition to a Muslim majority, 7% of the population is of Christian faith, of which 3% are Orthodox. Jews, Buddhists and other small minorities make up about 3% of the population.