/ News / Seven Impressions: A Commentary from Kyiv:
June 23-27, 2001    
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• Ukrainian Ministry Presents New Books On Papal Visit // 29.09.2001 (13:15)

• Kazakhs Will Hear Pope in Russian; Also a Stop in Armenia // 29.08.2001 (18:56)

• Pope Greets Ukrainians On 10th Anniversary of Independence // 23.08.2001 (16:32)

• Over 50% of Ukrainians View Papal Visit Positively // 07.08.2001 (01:51)

• Pope Will Also Find Ukrainians in Kazakhstan // 01.08.2001 (02:56)

• Pope Gets Boost From Putin // 30.07.2001 (11:23)

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• Pope Gives Patriarch Alexis Book of His Speeches from Ukraine // 26.07.2001 (23:45)

• U.S. Ukrainian Catholics find hope in pope's trip to homeland // 26.07.2001 (00:33)

• Ukrainian Envoy to Vatican Hails Papal Visit // 16.07.2001 (17:14)

• "Reflecting on John Paul"-- Kyiv Post // 07.07.2001 (12:52)

• Seven Impressions: A Commentary from Kyiv // 06.07.2001 (12:34)

• Russians Impressed With Pope During His Ukraine Trip // 05.07.2001 (11:51)

• John Paul II Recalls Key Moments in Ukraine // 05.07.2001 (11:47)

• Pope Thanks Mary for Trip to Ukraine // 04.07.2001 (19:38)

• Orthodox Archpriest Joins Papal Ceremony // 04.07.2001 (19:34)

• Orthodox Theologian Views Papal Trip // 04.07.2001 (19:29)

• Ukraine a Step Toward Re-evangelizing Europe, Pope Says // 04.07.2001 (09:58)

• Pope Beatifies 28 Greek Catholics at Largest Byzantine Liturgy in History // 27.06.2001 (21:14)

Seven Impressions: A Commentary from Kyiv

An anonymous correspondent from the Ukrainian diaspora writes from Kyiv with seven observations on the Papal Visit

1.The Legend of Fr. Borys Gudziak:
Ukrainian Catholic Priest Prevents International Scandal

Saw it with my own eyes on Ukrainian television. On Wednesday, right before the Greek Catholic Liturgy in Lviv, Fr. Gudziak, the Rector of the Lviv Theological Academy, was at the podium addressing the crowd of one million people (talk about a rush!) as John-Paul II was making his way towards the front. The crowd was in a high emotional state, chanting, singing, etc.

06.07.2001 (12:34) // Religious Information Service of Ukraine
Source: An anonymous author in Kyiv not part of the staff of the Papal Visit to Ukraine

   President Kuchma and his entourage then appeared and Fr. Borys seized the moment by saying to the crowd, "President Kuchma has arrived. Please, everybody, let's show him that we believe that Theology should be officially recognized as a discipline of higher education!" A big cheer went up from the crowd, led by the seminarians in the front. On television, it came off as a big cheer for Kuchma—and Russian television later reported that Kuchma was greeted enthusiastically by the crowd.

  The truth was rather different. Several eye-witness sources, including the Associated Press reporter, have confirmed that the crowd was in fact whistling (booing the Ukrainian way), shouting "han'ba" (“shameful”) and chanting "Ukraina bez Kuchmy"(“Ukraine without Kuchma,”). Fr. Borys's intervention undoubtedly saved Kuchma from a terrible public humiliation.

  2.Credit where credit is due.

  The pressure from the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) has been intense and Kuchma's gesture of flying to Lviv for the Greek Catholic liturgy was truly commendable. Many Ukrainians were watching Cardinal Husar and the Pope himself and how they would treat Kuchma. (Few people have spoken out against corruption in Ukraine as forcefully as Cardinal Husar.) They gave Kuchma full respect as the head of state and in this way demonstrated the strength and discipline of the Catholic Church in Ukraine.

  An angry anti-Kuchma mob of 1.5 million people would not have done Ukraine any good. This was an important moment for the development of civil society in Ukraine—they have shown that the church is a positive force to be reckoned with. I'm not sure that any other person/group/institution could rally that many people in the country.

  3.The Moscow Patriarchate (MP) has been the big loser in all of this

  The contrast between the Pope's message of love and forgiveness and the MP's message of hatred and vengeance has been noted by many, many, many, many people. In some ways, John-Paul may have had an even bigger impact in Kyiv than in Lviv.

  People are still talking about it here in Kyiv—and the one thing that is mentioned time and again is the Pope's use of Ukrainian throughout the trip. For Ukrainians, the issue of language has of course always been tied up symbolically with issues of human dignity, respect, recognition, and identity. Even if they do not use much Ukrainian in their daily lives, they know that it is THEIR language. So John-Paul's exclusive use of Ukrainian created an incredible atmosphere—here was the first world leader speaking to THEM and concerned about THEM.

  The street cleaners, janitors and cleaning women of Kyiv were still talking about the Papal visit after JP had left—the true measure of his universal appeal—they were still trading stories about Papal sightings, commenting on his Ukrainian, talking about the holiness and humility of the man.

  4. One can only imagine the effect that this visit has had in right-bank Ukraine, a stronghold of the MP but a place where people DO speak Ukrainian.

  According to numerous sources, the GC liturgy in Lviv was attended by not a few Orthodox priests dressed in "civilian" .One priest from the MP—from Drohobych to be precise—went so far as to inform the organizers that he was attending the liturgy unofficially and supports John-Paul's call for dialogue and reconciliation.

  5.Filaret, Head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Kyivan Patriarchate (KP), helped set the ecumenical tone—and demonstrated real statesmanship—by welcoming the visit of John-Paul and emphasizing that the struggle is not between Catholic and Orthodox but is a struggle for spirituality in the modern world.

   He also announced the further unification of the KP and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. I think every Ukrainian Orthodox believer was walking taller and prouder in Ukraine the last week.

  One of the leaders of the Baptist Church also praised the visit and said that JP was bringing the Gospel to Ukraine. In fact, of all the churches in Ukraine, the only one that opposed the visit was the MP.

  6. Meanwhile, Patriarch Aleksii spent the five days of the Papal visit in Belarus.

  And on Tuesday, as the Greek-Catholic mass was underway, Aleksii appeared on the border of Belarus and Ukraine with Lukashenko (that great human rights activist who calls himself an "Orthodox atheist") and called for the unity of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, while railing against the "Unia"

  I'm not an objective observer, but the whole thing looked pathetic and hysterical.

  Interestingly, the MP Metropolitan of Kyiv, Volodymyr Sabodan, spent the entire time in the Czech Republic—so Aleksii's histrionics looked even weirder.

  7. Two of the most memorable and moving moments from Lviv: the beatification of 28 Greek-Catholics and the audience of JP with young Ukrainian families.

  On Tuesday, at one point during the Pope's youth meeting, a procession of young couples came up to JP to receive his blessing. Some were newly-married, some with small infants, some with young children. In a country where abortion, adultery, and divorce is the norm, this was an incredible scene, an affirmation of the sanctity of marriage.

  Most of the young families were dressed in some kind of Ukrainian dress (some quite modern)--in one family, all the boys were dressed like Dovbush, including the haircut--and they had obviously prepared for this moment with great care. Many brought small gifts for the Pope.

  It makes you want to believe that there is a world somewhere beyond the Mercedes-Benzes, Hugo Boss suits, and no-neck bodyguards in leather jackets that define the contemporary image of Ukraine.

  The other highlight was the beatification-- the story of individuals who, in most cases, defied authorities and sacrificed their lives for their beliefs (it was nice to see Kuchma listening to all of this....)

  The one story that stands out for me is that of Fr. Emilian Kovch who was arrested by the Nazis for baptizing Jews. He ended up in Majdanek and when his family tried to do something to help him he wrote and told them that he is nowhere needed more in the world than there. He died in the camp in 1944.

  [FYI, his daughter emigrated to Canada.] Yet another story missed by the Canadian/Western press?

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