BY Ian Dunn | June 12 2015 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Pope calls for an end to atmosphere of war

Pope Francis has warned an ‘atmosphere of war’ is haunting the world and urged the people of war-torn Sarajevo to provide an example of how those of different religions can live together peacefully.

On a one-day visit to the Bosnian city last weekend the Holy Father was greeted by a 65,000-strong crowd at the city’s Olympic stadium and tens of thousands more took to the streets to greet him.

Many conflicts across the planet amount to ‘a kind of third world war being fought piecemeal and, in the context of global communications, we sense an atmosphere of war,’ the Pope said in a Mass at the stadium.

‘Some wish to incite and foment this atmosphere deliberately,’ he added on those who want to foster division for political ends or profit from war through arms dealing. “But war means children, women and the elderly in refugee camps, it means forced displacement, destroyed houses, streets and factories: above all countless shattered lives. You know this well having experienced it here.”

The Pope also met with leaders of the prominent religions represented in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the trip, telling them that if fraternal dialogue is fostered, the country—once torn by war and ethnic divisions—could become a sign of peace for the world.

Speaking during the encounter in Sarajevo with local leaders of Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Judaism, and Islam, Pope Francis stressed that their work in the region is immensely important, particularly because Sarajevo ‘stands as the crossroads of peoples and cultures.’

“Interreligious dialogue, before being a discussion of the main themes of faith, is a conversation about human existence,” he said, explaining that through dialogue a spirit of fraternity is developed, which unites peoples and promotes moral values, as well as justice, peace, and freedom.”

The Pope said religious leaders are the ‘first guardians’ of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and assured them of the Church’s continued support and willingness to help.

Historically divided into three key ethnic groups, Bosnia and Herzegovina is composed of a majority of Muslim Bosniaks, followed by a large percentage of mostly Orthodox Serbs and a population of Croats, a majority of whom are Catholic. There is a small Jewish community, which has a long history in Sarajevo.

The 1992-95 Bosnian war left nearly 100,000 people dead and resulted in half the population, some two million people, being forced to leave their homes, many of them never to return.




—This story ran in full in the June 12 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.


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