Please pray for the people of Kazakhstan generally and the Kazak Franciscan family specifically.
As many of you may already know, Kazakhstan has been experiencing violent political unrest for the
past three days. President K. Tokayev has issued orders, "To shoot to kill." to suppress protesters in
urban areas across the country. He has also asked for military assistance from Russia.
What had begun as a protest against rapidly increasing fuel prices morphed into an expression of dis-
satisfaction with the overt corruption of the national government and discrimination toward the Russian
minority who are Kazak citizens.
The current president, K. Tokayev, is seen simply as a figurehead of the former president, Nursultan
Nazarbayev. Nazarbayev seized power as the former Soviet Union was crumbling in April 1990 and
remained in power until March 2019. His personal corruption, as well as that of his family, is legendary.
In addition, the Russian minority has been stifled by overt and covert discrimination since the collapse of
the Soviet Union in 1991. The discrimination against the Russians is in retaliation for the domination of the
Kazaks for more than 150 years by the Russian Czar and the Soviets.
Kazakhstan, a country of 19.2 million people, has 250,000 Catholics mostly Polish, German and Lithuanian.
Christianity has existed in this region since the 2nd C. and has ebbed and flowed throughout the intervening
years. Believers have been imported, exported, welcomed, persecuted and executed. Today, they are
tolerated by those who are Muslim, the 70% of the population, that dominate the political landscape.
The most significant protests are in the southern quarter of the country, especially in Almaty which is the
largest and most cosmopolitan city in Kazakhstan. This region has a population of 6.4 million people,
50,000 are Catholic. They are served by the Roman Catholic parish of The Most Holy Trinity, located in
Almaty. This diocese was formed in 1999 and staffed by Franciscan Friars (OFM) on May 17, 2003.
I was planning to visit Holy Trinity in 2019, but COVID intervened. Please pray for a quick end to the
violence against persons and property, a resolution of matters in dispute and the formation of a stable,
Thank you and may the Holy Spirit bless you and keep you and bring you His peace.
Hank Hohenstein, OFS