Pope urges Bosnians to work for peace, reconciliation


By Aida Cerkez and Nicole Winfield , AP

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina–Pope Francis urged Bosnia’s Muslims, Orthodox and Catholics on Saturday to put the ��barbarity�� of war behind them and work together for a peaceful future as he made a one-day visit to Sarajevo to encourage reconciliation following the devastating three-way war of the 1990s.

Francis received a joyous welcome from thousands of cheering Bosnians who lined his motorcade route through the mostly Muslim city of 300,000. Another 65,000 people, most of them Catholics, packed the same Sarajevo stadium where St. John Paul II presided over an emotional post-war Mass of reconciliation in 1997.

��War never again!�� Francis intoned in his homily, denouncing those who incite war to sell weapons or to deliberately foment tensions among peoples of different cultures. He called on Bosnians to make peace every day �X not just preach it �X through their ��actions, attitudes and acts of kindness, of fraternity, of dialogue, of mercy.��

The brilliant sun shining on Saturday’s Mass contrasted sharply with the unseasonable April snowstorm that pelted John Paul during his historic 1997 Mass, which marked the first time many Croats had returned to Sarajevo since the war.

Nearly every step of Francis’ day was designed to show off interfaith and interethnic harmony in a city once known as ��Europe’s Jerusalem�� for the peaceful coexistence of Christians, Muslims and Jews. The city, though, became synonymous with religious enmity during the 1992-95 conflict that left 100,000 dead and displaced half the population.