Papal Envoy Visits Chernobyl in Show of Solidarity

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KIEV, Ukraine, JUNE 24, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, in Ukraine for a weeklong visit, went to the Chernobyl station to express John Paul II's solidarity with the victims of the worst nuclear accident in history.



According to the nunciature in Kiev, the cardinal on Monday visited the ghost city of Pripiat, a few kilometers from Chernobyl. The town's 45,000 inhabitants were evacuated after the explosion of one of the nuclear station's reactors on April 26, 1986.

Some 4,000 people continue to work in the station, closed in December 2000, to ensure its dismantling and to guarantee the security of the site.

The papal envoy's visit is taking place in the context of celebrations organized from June 23-27 by the Eastern-rite Catholic Church in Ukraine, on the second anniversary of John Paul II's visit to the country.

The cardinal, who is president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, met Ukrainian President Leonid Kutchma on Saturday. On Wednesday the papal envoy will inaugurate a monument to the Pope.

The Holy Father visited Ukraine from June 23-27, 2001, to promote reconciliation between Catholics and Orthodox, who constitute a majority in the former Soviet republic.