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Cardinal Parolin on Pope’s visit to Sarajevo

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)