VATICAN CITY, APR. 26, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II says his forthcoming visit to Ukraine is an expression of his “constant and respectful attention toward Orthodox brothers, as well as a determined commitment to continue in the way of dialogue in truth and charity.”
In a letter to the Orthodox metropolitan bishop of Kiev and All of Ukraine, the Holy Father points out that, after receiving several invitations, “as Supreme Pastor of the Catholic Church I will finally be able to correspond with the intense desire of Ukrainian Catholics, who are so numerous and well rooted in the country, to meet them and confirm them in faith in Jesus Christ our only Lord."
The letter, dated March 26 and published today, was personally given to Metropolitan Vladimir on April 7 in his residence in Pecherska Lavra, by Cardinal Roberto Tucci.
Vatican Radio said the Pope´s visit will take place from June 23-27. The Pontiff has been invited by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and the Catholic bishops.
Metropolitan Vladimir had previously sent a letter to the Pope requesting him to cancel the trip, believing that relations between Catholics and Orthodox were not positive, because of the rebirth of Greek-Catholic communities in the country.
In his reply, the Holy Father said: “My forthcoming visit should be a sign of profound understanding, determined to overcome all eventual problems arising between us.”
The Pope underlined his desire to meet with Vladimir himself, “to manifest personally, with a fraternal embrace, the love I have for you and for all the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”