Ukrainian president invites Pope Benedict XVI to visit Kyiv

11:50, 27 May 2008
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Sometime this year

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has invited Pope Benedict XVI to visit Kyiv, according to the Catholic World News.

With Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone visiting Ukraine, President Yushchenko handed the Vatican Secretary of State a personal message to the Pontiff, asking him to visit Kiev sometime this year.

A visit by the Roman Pontiff to Kiev could have great significance, at a time when Yushchenko is seeking to unify the Orthodox churches of Ukraine. Three separate groups are contesting the leadership of the country`s Orthodox faithful. One of those groups-- which maintains its fealty to the Patriarchate of Moscow-- has bitterly protested the establishment of a Catholic archdiocese in Kyiv, while another-- led by Patriarch Filaret of Kyiv - has been more friendly toward Rome. The Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of Kyiv  has proposed a single unified Ukrainian patriarchate for all Eastern Christians, bringing together Catholics and Orthodox.

In his talks with Cardinal Bertone, President Yushchenko also asked for help from the Vatican Secret Archives in probing the record of the famine that caused the deaths of millions of Ukrainians under the Stalin regime. Yushchenko referred to the campaign of starvation as a policy of "genocide" under Soviet leadership.

Cardinal Bertone was in Ukraine from May 23 to 26, to preside at two beatification ceremonies, for Sister Marta Vetskaya and Bohdan Khmelnytskyi.

The Catholic World News

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