Pope Francis in Sarajevo as ‘pilgrim of peace and dialogue’
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said he has travelled to Bosnia and Herzegovina as “a pilgrim of peace and dialogue.”
The Pope arrived at the International Sarajevo Airport on Saturday morning, shortly after 9. After exiting the papal plane and descending the steps, he was greeted on the tarmac by the Croat member of the three-member presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dragan Covic.
The Pope then proceeded to greet the dignitaries who lined the red carpet, as well as the dozens of young people in traditional folk costumes. Many of the young people held Vatican flags. The Pope also stopped to listen to a few young girls, who sung for him.
The papal motorcade then proceeded to the Presidential Palace, in the heart of the city. The main street was lined with locals, who had gathered to see the pontiff. The Pope was greeted by the current Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mladen Ivanic, the Serb member. The Bosniak member of the presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, stood with his colleagues and the Pope in front of the Presidential Palace during the Vatican anthem.
The Pope then met with the Bosniak authorities, after which President Ivanic gave an official speech, greeting the pontiff to the country.
Pope Francis, in turn, said he travelled to the country as “a pilgrim of peace and dialogue.”
He said Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina “have a special significance for Europe and for the whole world.”
“I am pleased to be in this city which, although it has suffered so much in the bloody conflicts of the past century, has once again become a place of dialogue and peaceful coexistence,” he said.
“For centuries in these lands, communities were present who professed different religions, who belonged to distinct ethnic and cultural groups, each endowed with its own rich characteristics,” he said.
After the two discourses, the Pope and the three leaders stepped out onto the main street in front of the presidential palace and set free seven white doves from a wooden cage.
The Pope then boarded his popemobile, accompanied by Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo, waving to bystanders and occasionally kissing babies on his way to the stadium, where thousands were awaiting him for Mass.
The full text of the Pope’s greeting to the Bosniak authorities follows:
Dear Ministers of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Dear Chairman of the Presidency,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I wish to thank the members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina for their kind welcome, and in a special way for the cordial welcome extended to me by His Excellency Mladen Ivanić Chairman of the Presidency, on behalf of everyone. I am pleased to be in this city which, although it has suffered so much in the bloody conflicts of the past century, has once again become a place of dialogue and peaceful coexistence. It went on from being a culture of conflict and war to creating a culture of encounter.
Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina have a special significance for Europe and for the whole world. For centuries in these lands, communities were present who professed different religions, who belonged to distinct ethnic and cultural groups, each endowed with its own rich characteristics; each fostered its own traditions, without these differences having impeded for any length of time the establishment of mutually fraternal and cordial relationships.
The very architecture and layout of Sarajevo reveals visible and substantial characteristics of these different communities, each a short distance from the other – synagogues, churches and mosques – so much so that Sarajevo has been called “The Jerusalem of Europe”. Indeed it represents a crossroads of cultures, nations and religions, a status which requires the building of new bridges, while maintaining and restoring older ones, thus ensuring avenues of communication that are efficient, sure and fraternal.
We need to communicate with each other, to discover the gifts of each person, to promote that which unites us, and to regard our differences as an opportunity to grow in mutual respect. Patience and trust are called for in such dialogue, permitting individuals, families and communities to hand on the values of their own culture and welcome the good which comes from others’ experiences.
In so doing, even the deep wounds of the recent past will be set aside, so that the future may be looked to with hope, facing the daily problems that all communities experience with hearts and minds free of fear and resentment.
I have come here as a pilgrim of peace and dialogue, eighteen years after Saint John Paul II’s historic visit, which took place less than two years after the signing of the Dayton Peace Accord. I am happy to see the progress which has been made, for which we must thank the Lord and so many men and women of good will. However, we should not become complacent with what has been achieved so far, but rather seek to make further efforts towards reinforcing trust and creating opportunities for growth in mutual knowledge and respect. In order to favour this path, the solidarity and collaboration of the International Community is fundamental, in particular that of the European Union and of all Countries and Organizations operating in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is indeed an integral part of Europe, the successes and tragic experiences of the former are integrated fully into the latter’s history of successes and tragedies. They constitute, too, a clear call to pursue every avenue of peace, in order that processes already underway can be yet more resilient and binding.
In this land, peace and harmony among Croats, Serbs and Bosnians, and the initiatives taken to extend these even further, as well as the cordial and fraternal relations among Muslims, Hebrews and Christians, take on an importance that goes beyond its boundaries. These initiatives offer a witness to the entire world that such cooperation among varying ethnic groups and religions in view of the common good is possible; that a plurality of cultures and traditions can coexist and give rise to original and effective solutions to problems; that even the deepest wounds can be healed by purifying memories and firmly anchoring hopes in the future. I saw this hope today in those children who I greeted at the airport: Muslims, Orthodox, Jews, Catholics, other minorities, all together and joyful. That is hope. Let us bet on that.
In order to successfully oppose the barbarity of those who would make of every difference the occasion and pretext for further unspeakable violence, we need to recognize the fundamental values of human communities, values in the name of which we can and must cooperate, build and dialogue, pardon and grow; this will allow different voices to unite in creating a melody of sublime nobility and beauty, instead of the fanatical cries of hatred.
Responsible politicians are called to the important task of being the first servants of their communities, taking actions which safeguard above all the fundamental rights of the human person, among which the right to religious freedom stands out. In this way it will be possible to build, with concrete measures, a more peaceful and just society, working step-by-step together to solve the many problems which people experience daily.
In order for this to come about, it is vital that all citizens be equal both before the law and its implementation, whatever their ethnic, religious or geographical affiliation. All alike will then feel truly involved in public life. Enjoying the same rights, they will be able to make their specific contribution to the common good.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Catholic Church, by means of the prayer and the works of her faithful and her institutions, is taking an part in the process of material and moral reconstruction of Bosnia and Herzegovina, sharing the country’s joys and concerns. The Church is committed to offering her particular solicitude and closeness to the poor and to those most in need, inspired by the teaching and example of her Divine Master, Jesus.
The Holy See praises the work carried out in these recent years, and is determined to continue promoting cooperation, dialogue and solidarity, in the sure knowledge that peace and mutual listening in an ordered and civil society are indispensable conditions for authentic and lasting development. Through the contribution of all, and leaving behind completely the dark clouds of storms gone by, the Holy See fervently hopes that Bosnia and Herzegovina may continue along the journey embarked upon, so that after the winter chill, springtime may come to blossom.
With these thoughts I implore the Almighty for peace and prosperity in Sarajevo and all of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
(from Vatican Radio)
Pope: “become artisans of peace in your daily lives”
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has called on all men and women to become “artisans of peace” in living out their daily lives.
During his homily as he celebrated Mass at Sarajevo’s “Kosevo Stadium” in the the presence of over 65,000 people, the Pope’s cry for peace echoed forcefully: “war never again!”
In a city which has known the abyss of pain and suffering inflicted by war, the Pope turned his thoughts to the many armed conflicts presently affecting our world and said “they are a kind of third world war being fought piecemeal, and – he said – in the context of global communications we sense an atmosphere of war”.
Reflecting on the fact that “Peace is God’s dream, his plan for humanity, for history, for all creation, the Pope said there are people who wish to incite and foment this atmospherem of war deliberately: “those who want conflict between different cultures and societies, and those who speculate on wars for the purpose of selling arms”.
But war – he said “means children, women and the elderly in refugee camps; it means forced displacement of peoples; it means destroyed houses, streets and factories; it means, above all, countless shattered lives”.
And to the people of Sarajevo he said: “You know this well, having experienced it here: how much suffering, how much destruction, how much pain!”
Appealing to all men and women of goodwill to be peacemakers and to carry forward their work “each day, step by step, without ever growing tired”, Pope Francis said that peace must be put into practice with acts of kindness, fraternity, dialogue and mercy. This must be done – he said – with compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness patience and a spirit of forgiveness.
The Pope said these attitudes are necessary to become artisans of peace precisely where we live out our daily lives. But – he said – “we should not fool ourselves into thinking that this all depends on us! Peace – he said – is a gift from God” because with his Spirit he can imprint these attitudes in our hearts and in our flesh, and can make us true instruments of his peace.
Pope Francis concluded asking the Lord for the grace to have a simple heart, the grace of patience, the grace to struggle and work for justice, to be merciful, to work for peace, to sow peace and not war and discord.
Please find below the full text of the Pope’s homily:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The word peace echoes several times through the Scripture readings which we have just heard. It is a powerful, prophetic word! Peace is God’s dream, his plan for humanity, for history, for all creation. And it is a plan which always meets opposition from men and from the evil one. Even in our time, the desire for peace and the commitment to build peace collide against the reality of many armed conflicts presently affecting our world. They are a kind of third world war being fought piecemeal and, in the context of global communications, we sense an atmosphere of war.
Some wish to incite and foment this atmosphere deliberately, mainly those who want conflict between different cultures and societies, and those who speculate on wars for the purpose of selling arms. But war means children, women and the elderly in refugee camps; it means forced displacement of peoples; it means destroyed houses, streets and factories; it means, above all, countless shattered lives. You know this well, having experienced it here: how much suffering, how much destruction, how much pain! Today, dear brothers and sisters, the cry of God’s people goes up once again from this city, the cry of all men and women of good will: war never again!
Within this atmosphere of war, like a ray of sunshine piercing the clouds, resound the words of Jesus in the Gospel: “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt 5:9). This appeal is always applicable, in every generation. He does not say: “Blessed are the preachers of peace”, since all are capable of proclaiming peace, even in a hypocritical, or indeed duplicitous, manner. No. He says: “Blessed are the peacemakers”, that is, those who make peace. Crafting peace is a skilled work: it requires passion, patience, experience and tenacity. Blessed are those who sow peace by their daily actions, their attitudes and acts of kindness, of fraternity, of dialogue, of mercy… These, indeed, “shall be called children of God”, for God sows peace, always, everywhere; in the fullness of time, he sowed in the world his Son, that we might have peace! Peacemaking is a work to be carried forward each day, step by step, without ever growing tired.
So how does one do this, how do we build peace? The prophet Isaiah reminds us succinctly: “The effect of righteousness will be peace” (32:17). Opus justitiae pax (“the work of justice is peace”), from the Vulgate version of Scripture, has become a famous motto, even adopted prophetically by Pope Pius XII. Peace is a work of justice. Here too: not a justice proclaimed, imagined, planned… but rather a justice put into practice, lived out. The Gospel teaches us that the ultimate fulfilment of justice is love: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Mt 22:39; Rm 13:9). When, by the grace of God, we truly follow this commandment, how things change! Because we ourselves change! Those whom I looked upon as my enemy really have the same face as I do, the same heart, the same soul. We have the same Father in heaven. True justice, then, is doing to others what I would want them to do to me, to my people (cf. Mt 7:12).
Saint Paul, in the second reading, shows us the attitude needed to make peace: “Put on then… compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Col 3:12-13).
These are the attitudes necessary to become artisans of peace precisely where we live out our daily lives. But we should not fool ourselves into thinking that this all depends on us! We would fall into an illusive moralizing. Peace is a gift from God, not in the magical sense, but because with his Spirit he can imprint these attitudes in our hearts and in our flesh, and can make us true instruments of his peace. And, going further, the Apostle says that peace is a gift of God because it is the fruit of his reconciliation with us. Only if we allow ourselves to be reconciled with God can human beings become artisans of peace.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, today we ask the Lord together, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, for the grace to have a simple heart, the grace of patience, the grace to struggle and work for justice, to be merciful, to work for peace, to sow peace and not war and discord. This is the way which brings happiness, which leads to blessedness.
(from Vatican Radio)
Cardinal Parolin on Pope’s visit to Sarajevo
(Vatican Radio) “Peace be with You” is the motto chosen by Pope Francis for his visit on June 6 to Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Pope’s 8th Apostolic Journey abroad consists in a one-day visit to Sarajevo which sees an intense Papal schedule of commitments and events including the celebration of Mass, an inter-religious and ecumenical encounter, and a meeting with the youth.
On the eve of the Pope’s departure, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State spoke to CTV – the Vatican Television Center – about the visit which the Pope himself has said aims to confirm the faith of Catholics, support ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, and encourage peaceful coexistence in the nation
In the interview, Cardinal Parolin highlighted the importance of the chosen motto and its logo that depicts a stylized sign that unites the cross, the white dove as a symbol of peace, and a triangle which represents the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The colours – he said – are those of the national flag; there is a reference to the Catholic community which is mostly made up of Croats; whilst the motto itself with the words “Peace be with You” are the first words ones that the Risen Christ addressed to his disciples.
The Pope – Cardinal Parolin said – travels to the land that St John Paul II described at the “Jerusalem of Europe” as a pilgrim of dialogue and peace.
Questioned about the current situation in the Nation, Cardinal Parolin recalled the “consequences of the war that afflicted Bosnia and Herzegovina” and that saw “over a hundred thousand deaths and a huge number of people who were displaced from their homes”.
The consequences of the war – he said – have had a huge impact especially on the Catholic community that “between the beginnings of the ‘90s to date has almost halved, from eight hundred thousand to four hundred thousand people”.
The situation is such – Parolin pointed out – that “in some of the parishes there are only a few families left” and most of the faithful are elderly.
He also commented on the fact that because of high unemployment and lack of opportunity, many young people continue to migrate, and this phenomenon is coupled with a general demographic drop that also affects the dwindling Catholic community.
The Cardinal then focused on the “complexity of the country’s political system” where power is shared between representatives of different ethnic origins: Bosnian, Serb and Croat.
At an administrative level the representatives give life to the Bosniak Federation, The Srpska Republic and the Brčko District.
The country’s presidency, rotated between the three communities every eight months, is currently held by the representative of the Bosnian Serbs. All three leaders will meet with Pope Francis on Saturday morning.
Cardinal Parolin said the complexity of this scenario means that it is necessary to achieve equality at all levels – political, cultural and social – for all citizens, while recognizing their own specific identities, independently from numbers. This – he said – is a condition that would favour peace, and at the same time, with the help of the international community, it would support the nation’s natural aspiration to be integrated into the European Union.
In this sense – he said – “it could be of example for the many situations that continue to exist in the world where diversity is not conjugated and accepted, becoming reason for conflict and contrast, instead of mutual wealth”.
Cardinal Parolin concluded expressing his hope that the Pope’s visit to Sarajevo may “not only contribute to the common good and improvement of the situation in the country, but also be an invitation to all men and to all Nations to rediscover the reasons of peace, reconciliation and progress, be they human, spiritual and material”.
(from Vatican Radio)
The scriptures tell us, Rev 13:11, that a final pope with the power to do miracles will be accepted as a great man of peace and will call for and bring about a New Federal Europe of ten nations; which will enforce peace in the Middle East by occupying Jerusalem and Judea 75 days after he is set up in the Vatican.
He shall appear lamb-like and speak words of rebellion against God, convincing the people to follow him and his traditions in rebellion against the Word of God. He shall be destroyed and the world liberated from wickedness, after he is in office for 1,335 days, Dan 12, by the coming of the Messiah the King.