Vatican Says Pope To Go To Kazakhstan; Expected To Meet Russian Orthodox Patriarch

The Vatican said on Monday that Pope Francis will travel to Kazakhstan in September for a meeting of religious leaders, a gathering where the pope has said previously he hoped to meet with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.

In a statement, the Vatican said Francis would be in the capital Nur-Sultan Sept. 13-15 to attend the VII Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.

Francis has said in several recent interviews that he hopes to meet there with Kirill, the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Vatican statement announcing the trip did not mention Kirill. The statement was released in Russian as well as Italian and English. Kazakh and Russian are the country's two official languages.

Kirill has given his full-throated backing to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Francis had planned to meet Kirill last month in Jerusalem after a trip to Lebanon but both were called off.

The late Pope John Paul II visited the Kazakh capital in 2001, when it was known as Astana.