Pilgrimage of John Paul II to Ukraine

Data publikacji: czwartek, 14 wrzesień 2023
On the right of nations to self-determination and the vision of Europe according to John Paul II, among other topics, we will be speaking at the international conference on 17 October 2023 Pope to the World. The 45th Anniversary of the Pontificate of John Paul II at Mt 5,14 | Museum of John Paul II and Primate Wyszyński. We would especially like to invite you to the panel From Santiago to the Urals - One Europe with Prof. Myroslaw Marynowich from Ukraine and Andrea Gagliarducci from Italy.

Today, John Paul II's pilgrimage to Ukraine, which took place from 23-27 June 2001, is astounding in its timeliness. It was the Pope's first ever visit to a territory recognised as canonical by the Russian Orthodox Church.

John Paul II was deeply convinced of the political and religious role of Ukraine as a bridge between East and West. The Pope's visit was a crucial event for the Ukrainian people to discover and define their identity in the first decade of building an independent state. The Pope pointed to the richness of a thousand-year-old culture and the value of the national language. He referred to Ukrainian poets including Taras Shevchenko: «Then in your own house you will see. True justice, strength, and liberty!» Ukrainians, it is in the fertile soil of your traditions that the roots of your future lie!

The pilgrimage was a confirmation of the vision of a united Europe, consistently pursued throughout his pontificate, where two religious and cultural traditions are equally valid and important: the evangelising mission of St Benedict in the West and the mission of St Cyril and St Methodius in the East - the idea of the so-called two lungs of Europe. In this context, the Holy Father repeatedly referred to the sources and state, cultural and religious identity of Ukraine. Each day of the pilgrimage was in parallel a confirmation of the Pope's successful mission to assert the right of peoples to self-determination. Therefore, many of the speeches delivered to the people of Ukraine were, in a way, a continuation of papal interventions: A presupposition of a nation's rights is certainly its right to exist: therefore no one — neither a State nor another nation, nor an international organization — is ever justified in asserting that an individual nation is not worthy of existence. (John Paul II, Speech at the United Nations, 1995).

John Paul II's visit resulted in the strengthening of pro-European-oriented forces in the country and increased interest in Ukraine within Western Europe. In the context of today's dramatic situation of the Ukrainians, but also of their heroic struggle for freedom, the words of John Paul II, delivered in 2001, resonate very strongly Ukraine has a clearly European vocation (23.06.2001, Kiev, welcome at the airport).