(CNA) The Vatican has named a church in Kazakhstan as the first minor basilica in Central Asia.
The Minor Basilica of St. Joseph in Karaganda was built at the request of persecuted Catholics who had been exiled to the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic by the Soviet Union.
“Our beautiful church was built 40 years ago. At that time, the Catholic people had already been deported to Kazakhstan by the Soviet Union. It was atheism, and the priests stayed in the prison and in the camps,” Fr. Evgeniy Zinkovskiy, vicar general of the Diocese of Karaganda, told CNA.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral was dedicated as a minor basilica during a livestreamed Mass Sept. 6 after the Vatican Congregation for Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued a decree June 19 conferring the new status on the church.
The title of minor basilica is an honor bestowed by the pope to signify a church of “particular importance for liturgical and pastoral life,” and with a “particular link” to Rome and the pope, according to the norms laid out in the Congregation for Divine Worship’s 1989 document Domus ecclesiae.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Kazakhstan is now the only minor basilica in Central Asia, a region comprising Kazakhstan and four other former Soviet republics — Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
complied by Tej Francis