Papal Visit to Ukraine Is for Peace, Not Politics, Aide Says

Archbishop Tauran Focuses on Theme of Reconciliation

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 15, 2001 ( John Paul II will take a message of peace and reconciliation to Ukraine when he travels there this month, a Vatican aide said.

«The Pope is not going to Ukraine on a political visit or to solve the internal problems of the Orthodox Church,» said Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican secretary for relations with states. He spoke at a conference in Rome, sponsored by the Ukrainian Embassy, and organized by the Association for Political Charity.

The Holy Father, he said, is «going in pilgrimage to Ukraine with a message of peace and reconciliation, emphasizing to all Christians, no matter what their confession or rite, that they can contribute to the good of the country.»

John Paul II will visit the cities of Kiev and Lviv, from June 23-27, at the invitation of President Leonid Kuchma. Most of Ukraine´s population of 50 million inhabitants is Orthodox, though this confession is split by three schisms. Many of the Orthodox, who are obedient to the Moscow Patriarchate, oppose the papal visit.

Archbishop Tauran on Wednesday played down these negatives reactions, as «Christian ethics favors discussion rather than confrontation,» and «fosters dialogue to make reason prevail over passions, eliminating violence and lying.»

«The Holy Father is going as a pilgrim to honor the courage and perseverance of his Catholic children,» who number 5 million, and «who preserved the Catholic faith integrally, thanks to their indefectible loyalty to the Pope of Rome,» the archbishop emphasized.

During the visit the Pope will beatify 27 Latin- and Eastern-rite Catholics who were martyred under Communism and Nazism.

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