Excerpts from: "Muslims Embrace Pope in Kazakstan" by
Victor L. Simpson, Associated Press
Astana, Kazakstan - Protected by massive security,
Pope John Paul II arrived yesterday in this mostly Muslim
nation and was welcomed as a voice of reason in the tense
climate in Central Asia following the terrorist attacks in the
Hours before John Paul arrived, an armored personnel carrier
fitted with a small cannon and carrying snipers in black
balaclava masks pulled up to a memorial he planned to
visit--a sign of the "unprecedented" security measures Kazak
officials promised to take in this sleepy Central Asian capital.
The Pope's first stop on the four-day visit was a memorial to
the victims of Soviet repression, where he laid a wreath and
prayed for five minutes, leaning on his cane.
The memorial honors millions of people who were exiled to
the harsh Kazak steppes and imprisoned in Soviet-era labor
camps. Hundreds of thousands perished, but many of those
who have survived to this day--including Poles, Ukrainians
and other Catholics--were expected in Astana to see the Pope.
"To think that we should have lived to see this day!" said
75-year old Anna Bukharova, a Pole who was deported
from Soviet Ukraine in 1936. "We await the Pope's blessing."
I think the year 1936 must be a typo.
New Jersey, USA