John Paul II Highlights Lessons to Be Learned From Ukrainian Famine

Papal Message for 70th Anniversary of Soviet-Made Tragedy

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 4, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II said that the injustices of the past, such as those committed by Soviet Communism in Ukraine, should stimulate the construction of a civilization that respects life.



The Pope expressed this conviction in a message to Cardinals Lubomyr Husar, archbishop of Lviv of the Ukrainians, and Marian Jaworsky, archbishop of Lviv of the Latins, on the 70th anniversary of the great famine of 1932-33, instigated by Joseph Stalin in Ukraine.

The Soviet regime took control of agricultural production and foodstuffs in order to impose forced collectivization in the country. Millions died in the genocidal famine that followed.

With his message, written in Ukrainian, the Pope wanted "to spiritually join everyone in the Ukraine in recalling the victims of this tragedy and inviting young people to remember past events so that similar suffering is never repeated again," explained a note accompanying the message, quoted by the Vatican Information Service.

"The memory of the past acquires a value that transcends the borders of a nation, reaching other peoples who have been victims of events that are equally devastating and, therefore, are comforted by sharing their experience," the Holy Father wrote.

"The experience of this tragedy must guide the sense and activity of the Ukrainian people today toward peace and cooperation," he stated. "Unfortunately, Communist ideology has contributed to furthering division in social and religious life. It is necessary to commit oneself to sincere and effective peace."

"The sentiment of Christian prayer for the souls of the dead must be accompanied by the desire to build up a society where the common good" and "the rights of the people are constant guides," John Paul II emphasized.

"Reaching this noble goal depends, in the first place, on Ukrainians who are entrusted with safeguarding Western and Eastern Christian heritage and the responsibility to turn it into the synthesis of culture and civilization," he exhorted.

"In this task," the Pope added, "lies the specific contribution that Ukraine is called to offer in building the 'common European house' in which all peoples may be accepted with respect for the values of their own identity."