Protests Precede Pope's Unity Visit to Ukraine

Religion News Service

Pope John Paul II today will take his quest for Christian unity to Ukraine, where he will face an Orthodox Church split into three warring factions and Catholics who worship in two different rites.

On the six-day trip, the 94th that he has made outside Italy in the 23 years of his papacy, John Paul will visit the Ukrainian capital of Kiev and the city of Lviv in western Ukraine, the only diocese in the world led by two cardinals.

Reports from Kiev said that demonstrators, including thousands of Orthodox priests and nuns, marched on the residence of the papal envoy Thursday in the latest and largest of a series of protests against the pope's visit.

Elderly women waved icons and signs reading "Orthodox or death."

The scene was reminiscent of the angry demonstrations staged by Greek Orthodox militants before John Paul's arrival in Athens last month.

In Athens, the Roman Catholic pontiff won applause from the Greek Orthodox Synod with his surprise apology "for the occasions past and present when sons and daughters of the Catholic Church have sinned by action or omission against their Orthodox brothers and sisters."

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