The Church’s cry of alarm ” “

The bishops' warning: urgent reforms, solidarity towards the last. No to violence

Over the past days the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, shaken by a week of massive popular protests, has become apparently calm. The demonstrations continue, but they are milder and peaceful, with simple sit-ins or rallies. Firm stands have been taken by religious leaders who point the finger against rampant corruption, the inability of politicians, the violation of the rules, rising unemployment, prices, unauthorized building, the spread of drug and money laundering. For some time now, the main religions in Bosnia – Orthodox, Catholics, Jews and Muslims – have realized the true extent of the problems of the country and are actively committed especially on the social plane through their humanitarian organizations. The latest accusation against the crisis was put forward by the Commission Justitia et Pax (Justice and Peace) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In a statement released a few days ago, signed by Monsignor Franjo Komarica, bishop of Banja Luka, president of the Commission, the bishops denounce “those governing the Country, who are lacking the sentiments, concepts and social programs needed to overcome the difficulties which the majority of the population in Bosnia-Herzegovina has been struggling with for years”. “Incompetent politicians”. The protests of the past days clearly highlight the causes of discontent, namely, “the deep gap between the socially wealthy and those stripped of their social rights in this country along with the continuing indifference and incompetence of politicians called to guide the country”. “It is deplorable – the statement reads – to see that the local representatives of power, enjoying remarkable support from the international community, have reached the point of brawling to solve the difficult social situation. The political exploitation of the frustration – largely justified – felt by most citizens, especially young people, who unfortunately fail to see their future in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is painful and deeply inhumane”. However, the severe degree of poverty doesn’t justify acts of vandalism against public property, which the bishops firmly condemn. “We express our solidarity to all our fellow citizens who largely not through fault of their own, are forced to lead undignified lives. At the same time, we resolutely oppose and condemn all forms of vandalism and all forms of threats, the destruction of the common property and any form of manipulation of the discontented masses, especially of young people”. Radical reforms. The bishops called upon “all leaders, notably local and international policymakers who are responsible for the present situation and for the future of the Country” to finally “start caring for the common good of all citizens, thereby focusing their commitment with a view to a stable and safer future for the Country. The current protests by aggrieved citizens undoubtedly highlight the need to implement structural reforms nationwide”. The Bosnian bishops underline the need for “radical reforms of the social and juridical systems” thereby prompting the country’s recovery as a structured Constitutional State, stable both economically and socially providing the much-needed guarantees of the respect for human dignity and of the fundamental Rights of all citizens. Renewal of the spirit. The present situation, “apparently hopeless”, will be resolved also through “a fundamental renewal of the spirit. We call upon our fellow citizens to commit themselves fully for the good of all men and women in our Country”, is the bishops’ appeal. “In particular, we invite those who rightly demand that their human and civil rights are respected not to use violence during the protests and not to destroy private or public property, because this will lead the country into an even deeper abyss and plunge it into an even more severe state of uncertainty. Experience shows that the spark of violence can easily trigger a fire of great proportions difficult to control in our country, marked by many wounds of war that have not yet healed, with the risk of and spreading across interethnic relations”.

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