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Dignitaries’ hotel offers ‘hotter’ attractions

Just four days before setting off for Ukraine, John Paul II blasted travel that caters to baser instincts. Speaking on the occasion of World Tourism Day, the pope denounced “an unscrupulous sex trade which is an intolerable scandal.”

Was anybody on the Vatican advance team for Kiev listening?

The question is prompted by one of the prime attractions of Kiev’s Dnipro Hotel, where journalists and ecclesiastical dignitaries accompanying the pope were lodged. There one finds the city’s very first strip bar, the Millennium, featuring “Slavic girls, enigmatic and sexy” ready to “excite your most secret desires.”

Walking outside the hotel after dark, one could espy the silhouettes of dancers bumping and grinding in the bar’s windows. It formed an odd contrast, to say the least, with the immense photo of the pope in front of the press center across the street.

Hotel advertising gave top billing to a Marilyn Monroe look-alike, pictured topless in flyers placed in rooms. The flyer assures potential clients that even “hotter” options are available “sadomasochistic ‘Matrix,’ ” for instance, as well as “vigorous ‘Cowboy,’ ” and “gorgeous ‘Firebird.’ ”

The Millennium actually offers something for all tastes, including male striptease and a “comic and erotic duet,” as well as an intriguing catchall category of “wonders and surprises.”

Vatican planners declined (sheepishly) to comment on the record about the apparent disconnect between the pope’s recent jeremiad against sexual tourism and their booking decision.

Privately, they insisted the Dnipro’s location across the street from the press center, and not its nocturnal extracurricular options, had been the decisive factor.

-- John L. Allen Jr.

National Catholic Reporter, July 13, 2001