Pope Francis marks anniversary of 'Terror-Famine of Ukraine'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) - The day before he was to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pope Francis greeted Ukrainians marking the 80th anniversary of the "Holodomor" or "Terror-Famine of Ukraine."

At the end of his Angelus address Nov. 24, the pope greeted the Ukrainian pilgrims remembering "the great famine provoked by the Soviet regime that caused millions of victims."

The next morning, just five hours before Putin was scheduled to arrive, Pope Francis joined the Ukrainian Catholic pilgrims from dozens of countries and told them that loving one another, loving the church and working for Christian unity are the best ways to honor those who were martyred for their faith.

"Every aspect of our Christian lives should be animated by the desire to build together, to collaborate, learn from one another and witness the faith together," the pope told the pilgrims from the Eastern Catholic church Nov. 25.

During their pilgrimage, the Ukrainians, led by the head of their church, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, marked the 80th anniversary of the "Holodomor" that killed millions of Ukrainians in 1932-33 and the 50th anniversary of the transfer of the relics of St. Josaphat to an altar in St. Peter's Basilica.

The Ukrainians celebrated a Divine Liturgy at the main altar of St. Peter's Basilica before the pope arrived and focused his remarks on St. Josaphat, who was martyred in 1623 for supporting the unity of his Byzantine-rite church with Rome, and on the Ukrainian Catholics martyred under the Soviet regime for the same reason.

The pope told the Ukrainian pilgrims, "The best way to celebrate St. Josaphat is to love one another and love and serve the unity of the church."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 1970