Pope urges Bosnian rivals to forgive
April 13, 1997
Web posted at: 12:58 p.m. EDT (1658 GMT)
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNN) -- Pope John Paul II
called for forgiveness and reconciliation Sunday during a
snowy Mass in a city torn apart by religious hatred that
sparked a bitter civil war.
Pope conducts service in Sarajevo
(740K/21 sec. QuickTime movie)
"Let us forgive and let us ask for forgiveness," he said. "We
cannot fail to undertake the difficult but necessary
pilgrimage of forgiveness, which leads to a profound
Sunny skies gave way to bitter cold and snow Sunday, but
neither the pope nor his congregation were deterred.
Thousands of pilgrims arrived at Kosevo Stadium by bus and on
foot, along roads and through tunnels closed off during the
war. On his way to the stadium, the pontiff passed by
Sarajevo's cemeteries and soccer fields full of graves.
The pope left Sarajevo for Rome later Sunday. The pontiff went ahead with his 25-hour visit despite an apparent assassination threat uncovered shortly before his arrival.
Sarajevo, a symbol of the 20th century, pope says
Inside, the war-wounded waited to see him, and the standing
crowds roared as he rode around the track before celebrating
the 2-1/2 hour Mass.
Sarajevo has become of symbol of the 20th century, he said.
From the beginning to the end, great wars have brought death
The pope also questioned whether Europe had done enough to stop
the latest conflict.
"Europe took part in it as a witness," he said. "But we must
ask ourselves: was it always a fully responsible witness?
This question cannot be avoided."
The pope's constant words of forgiveness, tolerance and
unity reflect one of the Vatican's main concerns -- that
while the Dayton peace accords have ended the war, they
have not yet brought Bosnia's people together again. Instead,
the Vatican fears the accords are solidifying the divisions
made during the war.
The Vatican insists on a unified Bosnia, believing that the
country's three ethnic groups -- Orthodox Christian Serbs,
Bosnian Muslims, and Roman Catholic Croats -- can co-exist in
John Paul II reiterated that message Sunday morning to the
three members of Bosnia's joint presidency. Bosnian Serb
leader Momcilo Krajisnik joined the other two members of the
presidency for the meeting, the pope's only chance to speak
with a representative from the Bosnian Serbs.
Krajisnik declined to greet the pope at the Sarajevo airport
on his arrival Saturday, citing security concerns.
Ironically, the pope's planned 1994 visit to Sarajevo was
scrapped because the besieging Bosnian Serbs would make no
security guarantees for the visiting pontiff.
Senior International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour contributed to this report.
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