Pope Speaks to Ukrainian Pilgrims of 1930s Famine

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict is praying that never again
will political ideology cost people their freedom and dignity.

He recalled the millions who died from famine in Ukraine and
other Soviet regions under dictator Josef Stalin.

The pontiff spoke in Ukrainian to pilgrims from that country in St. Peter's Square, and noted that this month marks the anniversary of the Death by Hunger, as the famine is known in Ukraine.

The 1932-33 famine was orchestrated by Soviet authorities to force peasants to give up their land and join collective farms. Ukraine, known as the breadbasket of the Soviet Union, suffered the most.

The issue of the famine is an irritant in already tense Russian-Ukrainian relations.

Ukrainian lawmakers, along with counterparts from the United States and other countries, have already called the famine an act of genocide against Ukrainians. But the Kremlin objects to the label, saying other ethnic groups also suffered.

Benedict said he prayed that "nations go forward on the paths of reconciliation and build the present and the future in reciprocal respect and in the sincere search for peace."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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