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The BBC's Robert Pigott
"Lviv has been electrified by the visit"
 real 56k

The BBC's Robert Parsons
"He repeated his call for reconciliation and inter-faith unity"
 real 56k

Monday, 25 June, 2001, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Pope honours Ukrainian Jews
Pope John Paul II
The Pope has been focusing on reconciliation and unity
Pope John Paul has visited Babi Yar on the outskirts of Kiev where more than 100,000 people - mostly Jews - were shot by Nazi forces 60 years ago.

On the third day of his visit to Ukraine, the pontiff stopped and prayed briefly at the site of the massacre, which has become a place of pilgrimage for Jews the world over.


My heartfelt hope is Ukraine will continue to draw strength from the ideals of personal, social and Church morality

Pope John Paul
Earlier, he had celebrated an open air Eastern Rite mass for Greek Catholics at Chaika airport on the western outskirts of the capital.

It was the first religious ceremony celebrated by the Pope following the Eastern liturgy.

As with a Latin mass held on Sunday the turnout for the mass was low - estimates put the congregation at about 50,000 people, falling far short of the 200,000 predicted.

Organisers again blamed poor weather, stringent security and difficult travel arrangements.

Fighting corruption

Speaking fluent Ukrainian, the Pope urged his followers to relish their post-Communist freedom, but also to tackle the widespread corruption that has come with it.

Ukrainian Orthodox nuns march through downtown Kiev during a protest against the Pope
The visit is unpopular with the Orthodox church
"My heartfelt hope is Ukraine will continue to draw strength from the ideals of personal, social and Church morality," he said.

The BBC's David Willey, who is travelling with the Pope, says that John Paul has made reconciliation and unity between all religions the focus of this visit.

He paid tribute on Sunday to believers of Islam, Christianity and Judaism who suffered under totalitarianism, referring in particular to the massacre at Babi Yar, a ravine where the Nazis gunned down Jews and others beginning in September 1941.

"May the memory of this episode of murderous frenzy be a salutary warning to all," he said.

"What atrocities is man capable of when he fools himself into thinking that he can do without God."

Catholic heartland

However, Jewish leaders world-wide have voiced dissatisfaction with the Vatican for failing to condemn more strongly what they see as the Roman Catholic Church's passive role during the Holocaust.

Later on Monday, the pontiff will go to the western city of Lviv, the heartland of Ukrainian Catholicism.

People gather to greet the Pope in Ukraine
A great turnout is expected in Lviv
A large turnout is expected there, for the beatification of 27 Soviet-era Catholic martyrs, putting them on the road to sainthood.

On Sunday, the Pope received another snub from Orthodox leaders, who boycotted an inter-faith meeting he attended.

Only hours earlier, the pontiff had appealed to Orthodox and Catholic Christians to put aside their differences.

Leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow have been highly critical of the Pope's visit, but the pontiff has given assurances that he is not seeking converts.

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See also:

24 Jun 01 | Europe
Orthodox church snubs Pope
23 Jun 01 | Europe
In pictures: The Pope in Ukraine
22 Jun 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Ukraine: A contentious papal trip
22 Jun 01 | Media reports
Ukrainian media upbeat on Pope's visit
21 Jun 01 | Europe
Storms await Pope's Ukraine visit
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