The Holy Door of Sarajevo is the symbol of a Country that intends to become a model of coexistence

Cardinal Vinko Puljić: "Our hope is that on December 13, the opening of the same door that was closed during the war may usher in the passage from a divided to a reconciled Country. It is the direction that Pope Francis has encouraged us to follow past June"

Healing the heart from the wounds and becoming a model of coexistence. With this aspiration, Sarajevo and Bosnia-Herzegovina are preparing to celebrate the Jubilee of Mercy. A Holy Door will be opened in the heart of the city, in what has become one of its symbols, the Cathedral of the Holy Heart (visited by John Paul II in April 1997 and by Francis during his visit past June 6), a few steps away from Baščaršija, the Muslim neighbourhood, from the Orthodox Cathedral and the Synagogue. The news was announced by cardinal Vinko Puljić, archbishop of Sarajevo, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Bosnia-Herzegovina.” We will open the Holy Door next December 13th. It will be an important moment, a sign that will mark the opening of the Jubilee Year in our Country.” In addition to the Holy Door of the Cathedral other six Doors will be opened in the Archdiocese of Sarajevo: that of the shrine of Saint John the Baptist in Podmilaćje, of the shrine of Saint Leopold Mandić in Maglaj, of the church dedicated to Saint Alojzije Gonzaga in Travnik, and those of three churches and Marian shrines devoted to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Tolisa, Komušina and Olovo. Holy Doors will be opened also in other dioceses of the Country “to facilitate participation of the faithful to this major event”.

There is no more gunfire in the Balkan country but the scars of the war of the 1990s are still visible. The huge buildings bear the scars, but the deepest wounds were inflicted on the hearts of the people. After a long, four-years siege (April 1992, February 1996) and after a peace that was such only in writing, Sarajevo, the Jerusalem of Europe, destroyed, bombed, injured by gunfire from snipers, is now trapped in the cobweb of its past, torn between memories of a possible coexistence and a present that, following the conflict, seems to have frozen those memories.

“The opening of the Jubilee of Mercy – continued Puljić – will help us heal many wounds, clean our heart and create a climate of trust after all the negative episodes of the past.”

A Jubilee year harbinger of hope and reconciliation. Indeed, the opening of the Cathedral’s Holy Door has an even greater meaning. “During the war – the archbishop remembered – the church was severely damaged yet it always remained open. Mass was celebrated every day. But entering from the main door was extremely dangerous because we were easy targets of the snipers. The faithful entered from a lateral door, that of the sacristy. We hope that the opening, on December 13, of the same door that was closed to us during the war will usher in the passage from a divided to a reconciled country. It’s the direction that Pope Francis has encouraged us to follow past June.” To open our hearts to dialogue, to diversity; to become the “artisans of peace”, the Pope said in his homily at the Kosevo stadium.

“May this Jubilee instil the grace of forgiveness. Without forgiveness there is no possibility of living in peace. We must wash away the hatred and jointly build a future of coexistence and harmony”.

even though it may often be difficult, especially for the Catholics of Bosnia Herzegovina (there were 800 thousand Catholics before the conflict, 460 thousand today, 13 thousand of whom live in Sarajevo) who “don’t enjoy the same rights as the population majority”, pointed out cardinal Puljic. How? “Overcoming injustice, building bridges, opening up to others, welcoming diversities and living them as a resource. We will try to offer our Jubilee of Mercy to all, to Muslims, Orthodox, Jews, in order to transform Bosnia Herzegovina into a model of coexistence. This task will be promoted by our young people, who have already undertaken a common path with their peers from other religions.” The Jubilee of Mercy in Bosnia Herzegovina will take place twenty years after the peace accords signed in Dayton, stipulated in Ohio (US) in November 1995, which divided the Country on ethnic grounds. “We shall invoke mercy to reverse the process triggered by those agreements which have, indeed, put an end to the conflict but have not returned to Bosnian citizens a fair and reconciled country. We shall pray to change the constitutional system which today is in fact paralyzing the Country.”

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