Moslems and Jews in Ukraine Favor Papal Visit

28.05.2001, 19:24
Moslems and Jews in Ukraine see the upcoming Papal Visit in a positive light. They shared their opinions with RISU's correspondent in Kyiv.

Ibrahim Abdulov, correspondent for the Crimean Tatars' gazette, Voice of Crimea, admits that he once imagined the popes as "great hermits of St. Peter's church." The current pontiff, however, changed Abdulov's mind. He is impressed that this pope has visited mosques and synagogues. "As a human being, a Moslem, a Crimean Tatar, a journalist and a historian, I salute this person’s activities. You know, he has risen above common human prejudices. And as pontiff he has found the strength of will and the character to take such untraditional steps… I understand what weight of responsibility lies on his shoulders as pontiff." Reflecting on the negative reactions of some Christians inside and outside of Ukraine to the Papal Visit, Abdulov openly stated, "It is not painful for me to say this: the Ukrainian people should not separate into different denominations. Ukrainians should find among themselves common points of contact: the Catholic should respect the Orthodox and the Orthodox should understand and respect the Catholic." And, in the best tradition of Ukrainian hospitality, he added in conclusion, "It would be good if the Pope came to Crimea. After all, the relics of the holy Popes Clement and Martin are there..."

Vladimir Matveyev, editor-in-chief of Open Door, the publication of the Religious Union for Progressive Jewish Congregations of Ukraine, had a similarly positive reaction to the upcoming visit. "This is a step closer, a step towards common understanding in our country, for the further development of democracy and the rebuilding of our free Ukraine." Considering the Pope's openness towards dialogue and understanding between different religions, Matveyev views the upcoming visit as "especially necessary and important for the life of Ukraine." And Matveyev is not alone in this conviction. He mentioned that Alexander Dukhovny, head rabbi of Kyiv and Ukraine for the Religious Union for Progressive Jewish Congregations of Ukraine, is a member of the civil and religious committee for organizing the Papal Visit to Ukraine.