Patriarch Kirill I Visits Katyn Graves

Appeals for Reconciliation Between Poland, Russia

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SMOLENSK, Russia, JUNE 11, 2010 ( Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow expressed the hope last week that the memorial in Katyn, which recalls the mass murder of 22,000 Poles by the order of Joseph Stalin in 1940, become a symbol of historic reconciliation and a place of prayer.

The Russian agency Interfax reported that the patriarch visited the memorial site Friday of what is known as the Katyn Massacre. In 1940, The Russian secret police (NKVD) carried out mass murders of prisoners of war, intellectuals, business owners, political officials and priests between April and May. They buried the victims in mass graves, which were first discovered by the Nazi army in 1943.
The head of the Orthodox Church hoped that the site «will become a place of ardent prayer for all those who visit Katyn.»
«Let us have this shared suffering, this shared grief and this shared blood reconcile us beyond historical disagreements and those of another type,» he added. «Nothing reconciles peoples better than shared suffering.»
Kirill I also expressed the hope that Katyn will become «a place of sacred memory which will help us to understand clearly the meaning of the historical process, and that at the same time it will be a place of common prayer.»
The event has been a wound in relations between Poland and Russia. It wasn’t until 1990 that the Soviet Union admitted that the NKVD had executed the Poles. At the time, Mikhail Gorbachev also confirmed two other burial sites similar to the site at Katyn: Mednoye and Piatykhatky.
On visiting Katyn, Patriarch Kirill I was able to see the model of the memorial Church of the Resurrection that is being built there, whose corner stone was laid by the Prime Ministers of Russia and Poland last April. The Polish president, Lech Kaczynski, died in an airplane accident on his way to the ceremony.

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