Muslims and Jew Applaud Visit

See Trip as Opportunity to Unite Country

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KIEV, Ukraine, JUNE 24, 2001 (ZENIT.orgFIDES).- Muslims and Jews in Ukraine seem pleased about John Paul II´s visit to the country, press reports indicate.

Ibrahim Abdoulov, correspondent for the Tatar newspaper Voice of Crimea, wrote that the image of the Popes, whom he once thought of as «great hermits of St. Peter´s Church,» has changed. The present Pontiff, Abdoulov noted, has visited mosques and synagogues.

«As a human being, a Muslim, a Crimean Tartar, a journalist and a historian, I salute this person´s activities,» he stated. «You know he has risen above common human prejudices, and as Pontiff he has found the strength of will and the character to take such untraditional steps. I understand what weight of responsibility lies on his shoulders as Pontiff.»

Reflecting on the negative reactions of some Christians inside and outside of Ukraine to the papal visit, Abdoulov stated: «It is not painful for me to say this: The Ukrainian people should not separate into different denominations. Ukrainians should find common points of contact among themselves: The Catholics should respect the Orthodox, and the Orthodox should understand and respect the Catholics.»

He added, «It would be good if the Pope came to Crimea. After all, the relics of the holy Popes Clement and Martin are here.»

Vladimir Matveyev, editor in chief of Open Door, the publication of the Religious Union for Progressive Jewish Congregations of Ukraine, also reacted positively to the visit.

«This is a step closer, a step toward common understanding in our country, for further development and understanding between different religions,» Matveyev wrote.

He views the papal visit as «especially necessary and important for the life of Ukraine.» Matveyev is not alone. He noted that Alexander Dukhovny, chief rabbi of Kiev and Ukraine for the Religious Union for Progressive Jewish Congregations of Ukraine, is a member of the civil and religious committee organizing the papal visit.

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