Ukraine a Step Toward Re-evangelizing Europe, Pope Says

Evaluates Recent Trip

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 29, 2001 ( John Paul II said he sees his recent trip to Ukraine as part of God´s plan to re-evangelize Europe.

«The visit to Ukraine, historical bridge between East and West, was a long-standing objective of mine, which I awaited and prepared for in prayer,» the Pope said before praying the midday Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter´s Square on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

«Now,» he added, «its fulfillment is further confirmation of a providential design: that the Church in Europe will begin to breathe again with its two lungs, so that the whole continent will experience a new evangelization.»

John Paul II described the welcome given to him by 2 million Ukrainians, who attended the public events presided over by the Holy Father from June 23-27, as «truly warm and moving.» He added: «I express my cordial gratitude to all.»

The next international papal trip will also be ecumenical. On Sept. 25, John Paul II may attend the celebrations for the 1,700 anniversary of the declaration of Christianity as the official religion of Armenia, whose apostolic Church has surmounted its fundamental theological differences with Rome.

The announcement, made in Yerevan, has yet to be confirmed by the Vatican.

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