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Press Release

Address by the President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma at the Official farewell ceremony of the Head of State of Vatican, His Holiness Pope John Paul II

Lviv, June 27, 2001

Your Holiness,
Esteemed Guests, Dear Compatriots,

The first ever visit to Ukraine of the Head of State of Vatican His Holiness John Paul II is coming to an end.

To some extent the concernment of this event may be comprehended only in the course of time. Certainly, it greatly exceeds the limits of Ukrainian-Vatican relations or the limits of visiting of the Head of Catholic Church of his flock in Ukraine.

Summarizing my impressions from the visit of His Holiness, I would like to mark that our conversation made it possible to look from another standpoint at the urgent problems that trouble Europe and the world.

One of them lies in the fact that impressive scientific and technological achievements raised too great expectations in the humankind. The material progress, however, has proved itself unable to solve the numerous social, economic, ecological and humanitarian problems of planetary scale.

Under such conditions, in the times when so many people are deeply upset with decline of moral values or look for excuses of their malicious deeds, consistent and convincing appeals of His Holiness to follow simple and eternal truth, declared in Christ's Sermon on the Mount almost two millenniums ago, gain special strength.

Secondly, the visit of eminent guest to Ukraine once again made all of us seriously and responsibly think about the spiritual achievements and basis, on which we shall build our mundane home - that is Common Ukrainian State.

The decade of independence of Ukraine is a subtle twinkling for the history. For us, however, it represents a considerable period marked by successes and failures, achievements and mistakes.

Seventy years of reign of militant aggressive atheism in our land could prove only one thing: any attempts to build a society without God leave behind nothing but "abomination of squalor" in people's souls. Nowadays attempts to create a new social order while neglecting belief in God and rejecting the eternally living principles of Christian living would represent the same twaddle.

As the Holy Scripture teaches, "When a house is not built by God, its builders are working in vain".

The history has always showed that every nation has to pass its way, sometimes long and hard, before it can fully implement its moral values in state and social institutions. Ukraine is now standing at the crucial point of this way. We are looking for the answer to complicated questions: how to organically implant the spiritual treasures bequeath to us by our pious ancestors into the complicated and contradictory pattern of modern inter-human relations? How to build a fair society based on mercy and love for one's neighbor?

I hope that you, Your Holiness, during your stay in Ukraine, were able to see for yourself that the need for spiritual has not been exhausted in the souls of modern Ukrainians, in spite of all the burdens of the past.

You have met the Ukrainian youth. It understood you and openheartedly perceived our words, irrespectively of confessions, to which those young people belong, no matter if they have already found their believes, or they are still looking for it.

Not everyone who wished to meet you was lucky to do this because of limited nature of space and human possibilities. However, we are firmly convinced that your visit represents only the beginning of a dialogue, which will further enrich all of us with new knowledge, high feelings and good intentions.

On behalf of the Ukrainian people, I sincerely wish you, Your Holiness, happiness and success in completion of your great mundane mission.

Let the Almighty God bless you with long years!

For more information, please contact:
Taras Malyshevskyi, Press Secretary of the Embassy of Ukraine
310 Somerset Street West, Ottawa, ON K2P 0J9
Tel. (613) 230-2961, fax (613) 230-2400

2001 08 17