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Pope grieves over Ukraine, India disasters

Pope John Paul has sent his condolences to the families of the dozens of victims of Ukraine's worst air show disaster and the capsising of a passenger boat in India over the weekend.

83 people were killed and more than 100 injured yesterday when a jet crashed into spectators at a Ukraine air show near Lviv, close to the border with the pope's native Poland.

"Pope John Paul, profoundly upset over the many victims and injured, wishes to express his closeness to those affected by this tragic event and mourns with them," the Vatican said in a statement issued during the Pope's trip to Canada.

"He bestows his blessings on the relatives of the victims and those who are now suffering,' it added.

For Ukraine's mostly eastern-rite Catholics, Lviv is a symbol of their church's survival during the persecution under communism.

Ukraine's largest Catholic Church, the Greek Catholic Church, was forced underground when Josef Stalin banned it in 1946 because he suspected it of being a haven for Ukrainian nationalism.

Ukraine has six million Catholics out of a population of 49 million.

Pilots blamed for Ukraine air disaster (BBC)


30 Jul 2002