Orthodox Church Not Opposed to Ukraine Trip

Papal Spokesman Clarifies Press Reports

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 23, 2001 (Zenit.org).-
The Vatican made it clear that it has received no pressure from the Orthodox Church to dissuade John Paul II from his planned trip to Ukraine.

«No message has arrived here to this effect,» Vatican spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, explained Monday afternoon in an official statement.

Italian newspapers had exaggerated revelations made by the Vatican missionary agency Fides, according to which «in a recent meeting of the Permanent Council of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Vladimir, representing the Russian Patriarchate of Kiev, was chosen to write an official letter to dissuade the Pontiff from undertaking the trip.» In its Jan. 19 news dispatch, Fides said it quoted sources inside the Orthodox Church.

Navarro-Valls explained that the Pope will meet Catholics of Ukraine «and hopes to contribute to a «peaceful ecumenical dialogue.» For now, the Vatican note makes no mention of meetings with the Orthodox. The papal trip to Ukraine is scheduled to take place from June 23-27.

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