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Cablegate: Vatican Sees Kazakh-Sponsored World Religious

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 VATICAN 004956

SIPDIS


DEPT FOR EUR/WE: LEVIN; DRL/IRF: YOUNG, HEWETT; EUR/CACEN

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958 N/A
TAGS: PREL KIRF KZ VT
SUBJECT: VATICAN SEES KAZAKH-SPONSORED WORLD RELIGIOUS
CONGRESS AS IMPORTANT STEP FORWARD FOR INTER-RELIGIOUS
DIALOGUE

REFTEL: VATICAN 4289

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) HOLY SEE DIPLOMATS WHO ATTENDED THE SEPTEMBER 24-
25 CONGRESS OF WORLD AND TRADITIONAL NATIONAL RELIGIONS IN
ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN REGARD THE FORUM AS AN IMPORTANT STEP
FORWARD FOR INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE. THE HOLY SEE, WHICH
HAS BEEN ACTIVELY PROMOTING SUCH A DIALOGUE FOR DECADES,
WELCOMED THE INITIATIVE AS A SIGNAL THAT THEIR EFFORTS ARE
BEARING FRUIT WITHIN THE ISLAMIC WORLD. RECOGNIZING THIS,
THE HOLY SEE SENT A HIGH-POWERED DELEGATION WITH TWO
CARDINALS, AN ARCHBISHOP AND TWO OTHER HIGH-LEVEL CURIA
OFFICIALS. THE VATICAN'S GROWING DETERMINATION TO ADVANCE
INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE MAKES IT AN IMPORTANT U.S. PARTNER
IN OUR EFFORT TO OVERCOME PERCEPTIONS OF RELIGIOUS MYOPIA
IN THE U.S. AND RELIGIOUS DIVISION BETWEEN THE WEST AND THE
ISLAMIC WORLD. END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- --
SPIRIT OF ASSISI REACHES ALMATY
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (SBU) THE CONGRESS OF WORLD AND TRADITIONAL NATIONAL
RELIGIONS IN ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN SEPT. 23-24 WAS AN
IMPORTANT STEP IN INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE AND "LAID THE
GROUNDWORK" FOR FUTURE ADVANCES, ACCORDING TO VATICAN
DELEGATE JOZEF MAJ OF THE HOLY SEE'S PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR
THE PROMOTION OF CHRISTIAN UNITY. THE GATHERING -- ONE OF
THE MOST SIGNIFICANT IN A PREDOMINANTLY MUSLIM COUNTRY IN
RECENT TIMES -- BROUGHT TOGETHER REPRESENTATIVES FROM 17
FAITHS AND DENOMINATIONS, INCLUDING ISLAM, JUDAISM,
CHRISTIANITY, SHINTO, HINDUISM, AND BUDDHISM, FOR
INTERFAITH DIALOGUE AND DISCUSSIONS ON CONFLICT RESOLUTION.
HIGH-LEVEL ATTENDEES INCLUDED THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE
MUSLIM WORLD LEAGUE AND THE CHIEF RABBI OF ISRAEL.
ARCHBISHOP TOMASZ PETA OF ASTANA DESCRIBED THE MEETING,
WHICH WAS PROMOTED AND ORGANIZED BY PRESIDENT NURSULTAN
NARZABAYEV, AS "A FRUIT OF THE POPE'S VISIT" TO KAZAKHSTAN
IN 2001, DURING WHICH THE POPE EMPHASIZED THE IMPORTANCE OF
DIALOGUE BETWEEN RELIGIONS AS A SIGNIFICANT INSTRUMENT FOR
BUILDING PEACE. IT ALSO REFLECTED THE SPIRIT OF INTER-
RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE, WHICH THE POPE FIRST LAUNCHED IN A 1986
MEETING IN ASSISI AND CONTINUED WITH A 2002 ASSISI MEETING
AFTER THE SEPTEMBER 11 ATTACKS.

3. (SBU) THE CONFERENCE PRODUCED A JOINT DECLARATION
CALLING FOR DIALOGUE, TOLERANCE, AND EDUCATION IN THE
PROMOTION OF PEACE WHILE CONDEMNING EXTREMISM, TERRORISM,
AND OTHER FORMS OF VIOLENCE IN THE NAME OF RELIGION. THE
DECLARATION, DISCUSSIONS, AND COMMON PRAYER DURING THE
EVENT, MAJ BELIEVED, REPRESENTED AN IMPORTANT "START"
WITHIN MULTI-CONFESSIONAL COUNTRIES OF CENTRAL ASIA TO
FOSTER RECONCILIATION AND UNDERSTANDING. DELEGATES AGREED
IN THE DECLARATION TO CONVENE AT LEAST EVERY THREE YEARS IN
A SIMILAR FORUM, AND DESIGNATED KAZAKHSTAN TO ORGANIZE THE
NEXT MEETING IN THREE YEARS TIME.

--------------------------------------
NEEDED EXAMPLE IN A TOUGH NEIGHBORHOOD
--------------------------------------

4. (SBU) JULIO MURAT, THE HOLY SEE'S OFFICE DIRECTOR FOR
KAZAKHSTAN, WHO WAS ALSO PART OF THE VATICAN'S DELEGATION
TO THE CONFERENCE, TOLD US HE ATTACHED GREAT SIGNIFICANCE
TO THE FACT THAT THE CONFERENCE WAS HELD IN A PREDOMINANTLY
MUSLIM, POST-COMMUNIST COUNTRY IN CENTRAL ASIA. "THE
NEIGHBORHOOD NEEDS THIS KIND OF EXAMPLE," MURAT SAID. HE
SAW A DESIRE ON THE PART OF THE NAZARBAYEV GOVERNMENT TO
AVOID "FANATICISM AND AN ISLAMICIZED SOCIETY" AND HE HOPED
ITS EXAMPLE COULD INFLUENCE OTHER COUNTRIES SUCH AS SAUDI
ARABIA AND IRAN AND, IN TIME, CONTRIBUTE TO BUILDING A LESS
FERTILE ENVIRONMENT FOR TERRORISM. KAZAKH PRESIDENT
NAZARBAYEV NOTED THE LINK BETWEEN INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE
AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY IN HIS REMARKS TO THE
CONFERENCE, AND ALMATY RABBI ELKHANAN KOGEN WAS QUOTED IN
THE PRESS DURING THE EVENT ACCENTING ITS ANTI-TERRORISM
THEME.

---------------------------------------------
VATICAN DELEGATION REFLECTS POPE'S COMMITMENT
---------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) THE HOLY SEE'S HIGH-POWERED PRESENCE AT THE
KAZAKHSTAN CONGRESS REFLECTED THE PRIORITY THE HOLY SEE
CURRENTLY PLACES ON EXPANDING SUCH A DIALOGUE AND THEIR

VATICAN 00004956 002 OF 002

SITED BY THE POPE.
THE HOLY SEE DELEGATION WAS LED BY CARDINAL JOZEF TOMKO,
PREFECT EMERITUS OF THE CONGREGATION FOR THE EVANGELIZATION
OF PEOPLES. THE DELEGATION ALSO INCLUDED CARDINAL RENATO
MARTINO, PRESIDENT OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR JUSTICE
AND PEACE, ASTANA ARCHBISHOP TOMASZ PETA, ARCHBISHOP PIER
LUIGI CELATA, THE NUMBER TWO IN THE VATICAN'S COUNCIL FOR
INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE, MONSIGNOR MAJ FROM THE COUNCIL
FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY, AND A MONSIGNOR MARAT FROM THE FOREIGN
MINISTRY. IN HIS REMARKS, TOMKO EMPHASIZED THE SPECIFIC
RESPONSIBILITY OF RELIGIOUS LEADERS TO COLLABORATE TO
ELIMINATE CAUSES OF TERRORISM, PROMOTE HUMAN DIGNITY AND
UNITY AMONG PEOPLES. HE ALSO HIGHLIGHTED THE IMPORTANCE OF
EDUCATION IN ENSURING THAT CULTURAL AND RELIGIOUS
IDENTITIES ARE NOT PROMOTED IN OPPOSITION TO OTHERS.

-------
COMMENT
-------

6. (SBU) THOUGH THE MEETING WAS KAZAKH-SPONSORED, THE HOLY
SEE CAN JUSTIFIABLY CLAIM A ROLE IN ITS GENESIS, GIVEN THE
POPE'S PIONEERING ROLE IN DEVELOPING THIS TYPE OF
CONFERENCE. AS ALMATY ARCHBISHOP PETA OBSERVED, "WE ARE
HAPPY THAT OUR CIVIL AUTHORITIES RECOGNIZE THE POPE AS A
MAJOR MORAL AUTHORITY AT THE WORLD LEVEL AND THAT THEY HAVE
UNDERTAKEN THIS INITIATIVE IN KEEPING WITH THE SPIRIT OF
ASSISI WHERE THE FIRST INTER-RELIGIOUS MEETING FOR PEACE
WAS HELD." THE VATICAN-ASSOCIATED NGO SANT'EGIDIO ALSO
ORGANIZES AN ANNUAL SERIES OF INTER-RELIGIOUS MEETINGS WITH
A SIMILAR FORMAT (REFTEL) THAT HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO A
NORMALIZATION OF SUCH DIALOGUES. CATHOLIC DOCUMENTS ON
INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE ARE SOME OF THE MOST DEVELOPED,
AND WERE FREQUENTLY CITED DURING THE CONFERENCE. VATICAN
OFFICIAL HAVE TOLD US THAT EXPANDING THIS DIALOGUE IS
CURRENTLY ONE OF THE VATICAN'S HIGHEST INTERNATIONAL
PRIORITIES. WE CAN THEREFORE EXPECT THE HOLY SEE TO REMAIN
A KEY PARTNER IN OUR EFFORT TO BUILD INTER-RELIGIOUS
UNDERSTANDING AND DEVELOP AN ACTIVE DIALOGUE WITH THE
MUSLIM WORLD. AS MURAT CONCLUDED, "THERE SEEMS TO BE
MOMENTUM ON THE ISSUE." END COMMENT.

NICHOLSON

NNNN

2003VATICA04956 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

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