Catholic Church in Kazakhstan

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Karaganda cathedral

The Catholic Church in Kazakhstan is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the pope in Rome.


There are approximately 250,000 Catholics in Kazakhstan out of a population of 15 million.[1] Most Catholics in the country are ethnic Poles, Germans and Lithuanians.[2] There are 3,000 Greek Catholics, also referred to as Eastern Rite Catholics, in the country.[2] The population of Catholics decreased after the fall of communism as many German Catholics emigrated to Germany.[2]


In the second century AD, Christian Roman prisoners of war were taken to what is now Kazakhstan after their defeat by the Sassanid Persians.[1] A bishop's see existed in the fourth century, and there was also a Melkite monastery in the late fourth and early fifth centuries.[1]

Communist period[edit]

The head of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin caused a great increase in the Catholic population of Kazakhstan by the deportation of Catholics and their clergy to concentration camps in the country. Some of the priests later decided to help build the church in that country.[1] In the late 1960s, two Catholic churches were registered, one in Alma-Ata and one in Kustanai, and later disbanded and were re-registered.[3]

1991 to the present[edit]

The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Almaty

With the fall of communism in 1991, the Catholic community fully came back out into the open.[4] In 1991, Pope John Paul II established an Apostolic Administration that covered all of Central Asia.[5] Diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Kazakhstan were established in 1994.[1] In 1997, the other four countries of the region, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan all became independent missions, so the Apostolic Administration became for only Kazakhstan and was based in Karaganda.[5] In 1999, the apostolic administration was split in four; three new apostolic administrations were created, based in Almaty, Astana, and Atyrau, and a diocese was created in Karaganda.[5] Pope John Paul II became the first Pope to visit Kazakhstan in the country's history in 2001.[6] In 2003, John Paul II elevated Astana to an archdiocese and Almaty to a diocese.[7] In 2006, Catholic priests were ordained for the first time ever in the country.[8]

Bishop José Luis Mumbiela Sierra, of Almaty Diocese, described the variety of the Catholic population in Kazakhstan during a conference with Aid to the Church in Need: "A large proportion of the Catholics live in the north of the country, where there is a Polish majority. In the larger cities there is a bigger mix of people. For example, there are many Koreans, from past deportations, who are Catholic. There are also people from non-Christian populations who converted to Catholicism. It is like a river that keeps flowing, because people are attracted by the Church’s message."[9]

In 2008, the Church in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan affirmed its Asiatic identity when its episcopal conference was formally accepted into the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences.[1]

In 2022 three of the Catholic Church's bishops issued calls for peace, following the episodes of civil unrest that led to hundreds of deaths in the country.[10]

Byzantine Rite faithful[edit]

In 1996 here was appointed by the Holy See an Apostolic Visitor, who was replaced in 2002 by Apostolic Delegate, who depended from the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. But on 1 June 2019 by Pope Francis was established the Apostolic Administration of Kazakhstan and Central Asia for the all Byzantine Rite (mainly Ukrainian Greek Catholic) parishes. The circumscription encompasses Kazakhstan and others four Central Asia states.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Church in Kazakhstan Affirms Asiatic Identity". Zenit News Agency. 2008-04-17. Archived from the original on 2008-04-21. Retrieved 2008-11-18.
  2. ^ a b c "KAZAKHSTAN UCAN Interview - Chairman Of Kazakhstan's Bishops Hopes For Local Vocations". Union of Catholic Asian News. 2007-12-26. Archived from the original on 2009-01-08. Retrieved 2008-11-19.
  3. ^ Ramet, Sabrina P. (1990). Catholicism and Politics in Communist Societies. Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-1047-3.
  4. ^ "KAZAKHSTAN Greek Catholic Church Gets First Locally Ordained Priest". Union of Catholic Asian News. 2007-07-04. Archived from the original on 2009-01-08. Retrieved 2008-11-18.
  5. ^ a b c "KAZAKHSTAN POPE ERECTS NEW DIOCESE, THREE APOSTOLIC ADMINISTRATIONS". Union of Catholic Asian News. 1999-08-18. Archived from the original on October 15, 2013. Retrieved 2008-11-18.
  6. ^ Zenit Staff (2003-05-18). "Two New Dioceses Erected in Kazakhstan". Zenit News Agency. Archived from the original on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2008-11-18.
  7. ^ "KAZAKHSTAN Bishop Schneider Installed, First Auxiliary Bishop In Central Asia". Union of Catholic Asian News. 2006-08-01. Archived from the original on October 15, 2013. Retrieved 2008-11-19.
  8. ^ "KAZAKHSTAN First Priestly Ordination Ceremony Held On Kazakh Soil". Union of Catholic Asian News. 2006-06-12. Archived from the original on October 15, 2013. Retrieved 2008-11-18.
  9. ^ ACN (2022-09-12). "Pope Francis in Kazakhstan: The spirit of Assisi". ACN International. Retrieved 2022-11-02.
  10. ^ ACN (2022-01-12). "Catholic bishops of Kazakhstan request prayers for peace in the country". ACN International. Retrieved 2022-11-02.
  11. ^ "Erezione dell'Amministrazione Apostolica per i fedeli cattolici di rito bizantino in Kazakhstan e nell'Asia Centrale con sede a Karaganda e nomina dell'Amministratore Apostolico". Official Website of the Holy See (in Italian). Retrieved 20 November 2019.

External links[edit]