Sarajevo at the centre of Europe

Expectations of Catholics, and not only them, after the announcement of Bergoglio's visit to the Country's capital. The words of card. Puljic

“Pope Francis had been invited by the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina and by our Church, but his announcement” of Sunday, February 1 “came as a pleasant surprise. Now here we all are looking forward with great anticipation, not just Catholics, to a very significant visit.” With these words the Archbishop of Sarajevo, Cardinal Vinko Puljic, commented on the news of the next journey, planned for June 6, of Pope Francis in Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. “I would like to announce that on Saturday, June 6th, God-willing, I will go to Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia Herzegovina”, said Bergoglio to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square in Rome for the Angelus. “I ask today that you pray so that my visit to that dear population be an encouragement for the Catholic faithful, lead to good gestures and contribute to the consolidation of brotherhood and peace, of inter-religious dialogue and friendship.” I ask you right now to pray that my visit to those dear people be encouraging for the Catholic faithful, inspire ferments of good and contributes to the consolidation of fraternity and peace.” “We plan to set up the Organising Committee of the visit to begin the preparations”, said the cardinal. “We have to pray a lot – the apostolic nuncio in Bosnia, Luigi Pezzuto, said at the Vatican Radio – so to ensure that the visit will bear abundant fruit both for the local church, the Catholic church, but also at the level of all segments of this society; thus at the cultural, religious level, to really move towards a climate, a situation of peace and coexistence. This process has already begun, however, it must mature and must be brought to completion.” For the president of the Bosnian Bishops Conference, Monsignor Franjo Komarica, “the Pope will give a thrust to our country that was abandoned for too long in a blind alley. He comes to encourage this society, politics and the common life of dear peoples and religious communities, to strengthen what unites us and lead us to us where we belong, in the family of European peoples and civilized Countries.”Your Eminence, the Pope continues his journey through European Countries, the second after Tirana in Albania, starting from “peripherical” nations where Catholics are a minority. Bosnia is a Country that still bears the wounds of the war that broke out 20 years ago. What kind of visit will the Pope’s be? “The Pope has a heart the poor and the wounded of this land – Cardinal Puljic replied to Daniele Rocchi, for SIR Europe – . He is coming to communicate to them hope and courage, also to the Catholic Church. The purpose of this visit is to encourage the path of peace and reconciliation- He is a true pilgrim of peace.”  As pilgrim of peace the Pope visited Jerusalem in the Holy Land, torn by a long conflict and now, as pilgrim of peace he will visit Sarajevo, the Jerusalem of Europe, not only a cultural crossroads but also a religious one. What do you think he will say? “Saint John Paul II proclaimed Sarajevo Europe’s Jerusalem, and it still is! Sadly, Europe is forgetting it. With this visit Pope Francis intends to restore Sarajevo and Bosnia-Herzegovina  at the centre of Europe. At the same time he will bring Europe to Sarajevo. The EU must return to support this Country so it may return to thrive and so that peace may blossom again!”The visit will be celebrated a month before the 20th anniversary since the massacre of Srebrenica (July 1995), when the Serbian-Bosnian troops killed some 8 thousand Bosnian Muslims, men women and children, in just a few days. One of the saddest and shameful pages of the Balkan wars… “This visit will be the occasion to reiterate the condemnation of all wars and the respect for all victims as is the case of Srebrenica.”

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