John Paul II Visits Ravine Where Jews Were Massacred

Accompanied by Chief Rabbi of Ukraine

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

KIEV, Ukraine, JUNE 25, 2001 ( Memorials to the victims of Communism and Nazism were two of the most overwhelming moments of John Paul II´s 60-hour visit to the Ukrainian capital, which ended today.

On Sunday afternoon, the Pontiff visited the common graves of some 200,000 Ukrainians, who died in Kiev prisons during the Soviet domination. Today, Monday, the Holy Father paid tribute to Ukrainian Jews killed in a 1941 massacre by the Nazis.

Shortly before leaving Kiev for Lviv, and accompanied by Yaakov Dov Bleich, chief rabbi of Ukraine, the Pope prayed in Babi Yar, the ravine in which more than 30,000 people, the majority Jews, were seized over one week in Kiev and executed by Nazi troops.

Over a two-year period, about 200,000 people were killed and buried in Babi Yar. Today the ravine is a memorial surrounded by trees and a place of pilgrimage for Jews.

John Paul II recollected himself for a few minutes at the memorial and said a prayer for the victims. Then, turning to the rabbi, he exclaimed: «God bless you.»

«Thanks to the Pontiff´s efforts, one can hope that tragedies like these will not be repeated,» the Jewish leader later told the press.

Referring to Babi Yar when he addressed religious leaders on Sunday, John Paul II said, «May the memory of this episode of murderous frenzy be a salutary warning to all.»

«What atrocities man is capable of, when he fools himself into thinking that he can do without God!» the Holy Father lamented.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation