ASTANA, Kazakstan -- Pope John Paul II called on Catholics to rebuild the Church in post-Communist Central Asia but cautioned against aggressive proselytizing in a land of many faiths.
At a Monday Mass in Astana, the capital of Kazakstan, the pope delivered a homily in Polish and German, the languages spoken by most of the region's clergy -- and the languages of Catholics exiled here in the Soviet era.
John Paul, who witnessed communist domination in his native Poland, recalled the exiles' suffering and the leadership of church martyrs who perished in the Stalin-era prison camps of Kazakstan. He expressed deep thanks to the clergy working to breathe new life into the church, which was suppressed during 70 years of Soviet rule.
"Dear Brothers and Sisters! Remain ever faithful to the Lord of life. Together rebuild his living temple, which is the ecclesiastical community spread throughout this vast Eurasian region," he said.
John Paul, 81, appeared tired, and his hands trembled more than usual.
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