On Orthodox Who Didain the Pope

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, May 8–In an article for the Journal, columnist Rod Dreher of the New York Post lamented Greek Orthodox disdain for Pope John Paul II, saying the real enemies of God today are not fellow Christians but Hollywood, and the “functional nihilism” spawned by consumerism.

“It is said that the Greek Orthodox regard John Paul as a symbol of the Westernization they despise,” Dreher wrote. “Who are they kidding? The Pontiff who was the scourge of the militant atheist ideology that made martyrs of millions of Orthodox believers is the same man who is the fiercest enemy of the secular Western juggernaut. Have the Orthodox been paying attention for the past two decades? Do they read this stuff?”

Added Dreher: “By the time the Orthodox awaken from their self-satisfaction and grasp the true nature of the spiritual and moral crisis engulfing their respective cultures, what will they do to fight it? Perhaps they will consult Veritatis Splendor and Evangelium Vitae, as well as other prophetic writings of John Paul II.…Too late, it may dawn on the Orthodox religious authorities what kind of wise and holy man they, in their narrow-mindedness and pride, rejected out of hand. Tragic? Yes. But in the Gospels, you'll find precedent for this sort of thing.”

Nearly Half of Ukrainians Support Visit

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, May 4 — Nearly half of Ukrainians support next month's visit by Pope John Paul II, despite the staunch opposition of the Russian Orthodox Church, the dominant faith in this ex-Soviet republic, the news agency reported.

Twenty-three percent of Ukrainians are “very favorable” to the June 23-27 visit and 21% “broadly favorable,” a May opinion poll published showed.

Only 4% of the 1,200 people interviewed by the Socis polling organization declared themselves “broadly opposed” or “completely opposed.”

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Alexy II, has several times expressed his opposition to the Pope's trip, accusing the Catholic Church of proselytism in a part of the world that is traditionally Orthodox.

Armenia: Fall Stop on the Pope's Unity Tour

ASSOCIATED PRESS, May 8–Pope John Paul II is to visit Armenia in September to take part in celebrations of the 1,700th anniversary of Christianity as the national religion, the Armenian Apostolic Church told the news service.

The visit will take place Sept. 25, officials of the commission coordinating the celebration at Etchmiadzin, the church's seat, said.

The Armenian church separated from the Byzantine church centuries before the schism of 1054 divided most of Christendom between the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholics. The Armenian and Roman Catholic churches in recent years have made efforts to move closer together and Pope John Paul II met last year with the Armenian church's leader, Catholicos Garegin II.