Pope John Paul II has sent a message to Ukrainian Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, Archbishop of Lviv of the Ukrainians, and Cardinal Marian Jaworsky, Archbishop of Lviv of the Latins, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Great Famine of 1932-33, instigated by Joseph Stalin in the Ukraine aimed at killing Catholics.
The Soviet regime took control of all agricultural production and foodstuffs in order to impose forced collectivization in the country. This method provoked the genocide of entire populations.
Although the regime hid the information, it is now known that millions of people, mostly Ukranian Catholics, died during the famine.
With his message, written in Ukrainian, the Pope wanted “to spiritually join everyone in the Ukraine in recalling the victims of this tragedy and inviting young people to remember past events so that similar suffering is never repeated again.”
“The memory of the past,” writes the Holy Father, “acquires a value that transcends the borders of a nation, reaching other peoples who have been victims of events that are equally devastating and, therefore, are comforted by sharing their experience.”
The Pontiff says that the scheduled commemorations “do not go against other nations, but intend rather to instill in everyone’s soul the sense of dignity of all people, regardless of which group one belongs to.”
“The awareness of past aberrations results in a constant stimulus to build a future more suitable to man, in contrast to all ideology that profanes life and the just aspirations of man,” he adds.
“The experience of this tragedy,” the Holy Father also says, “must guide the sense and activity of the Ukrainian people today toward peace and cooperation. Unfortunately, communist ideology has contributed to furthering division in social and religious life.”
But the Pope says that “the sentiment of Christian prayer for the souls of the dead” must be accompanied “by the desire to build up a society where the common good and the rights of the people are constant guides.”
“Reaching this noble goal depends, in the first place, on Ukrainians who are entrusted with safeguarding Western and Eastern Christian heritage and the responsibility to turn it into the synthesis of culture and civilization.”
“In this task lies the specific contribution that Ukraine is called to offer in building the ‘common European house’ in which all peoples may be accepted with respect for the values of their own identity,” he concludes.