Cardinal Husar Visits Pope at Critical Time for Ukraine

Legislative Elections Approach at End of Month

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 12, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II received Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, leader of Ukraine´s Greek-Catholics, in audience today, at a decisive time for the country´s future.

The Eastern-rite Greek-Catholic Church prayed Sunday in Lviv for honest legislative elections on March 31, the Ukrainsky Novyny agency reported Monday. Religious celebrations will be held every day until the date of the elections, the agency quoted a Church spokesman as saying.

Eastern-rite Ukrainian nuns are organizing a special prayer campaign because of the difficult situation in the country, said Sister Irina of St. Vassyl´s convent in Lviv.

“Each nun recollects herself every day for several hours to pray for these intentions. Ukrainians must elect those who do not neglect their Christian duties,” she added in statements published by Agence France-Presse.

Cardinal Husar, the major archbishop of Lviv, reported to the Holy Father on the evolution of the communities entrusted to him at the end of 2000.

They evaluated the repercussions of John Paul II´s visit to Ukraine last June, during which he beatified 28 Greek-Catholic martyrs, victims of Communism and Nazism.

According to Vatican Radio, 60% of the close to 50 million Ukrainians are Orthodox. Catholics constitute 11% of the population; 9% are of the Eastern-rite.

On March 5, the Ukrainian Parliament requested the public prosecutor to begin an investigation of President Leonid Kutchma, who is accused of complicity in the murder of two deputies, ordered by Pavlo Lazarenko, a former Prime Minister who is now incarcerated in the United States.

The request for an investigation comes at the height of the electoral campaign, in which President Kutchma is supporting a coalition of five centrist parties.

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