In 24 hours I will be en route to Chicago to attend the funeral of my cousin Dotty Hart who died yesterday morning in Chicago, She and her twin sister, Debby and I, as I may have said in a previous column, have been close our entire lives, even though we lived in different cities over the years. Dot and Deb lived in Paris for many years and we’d take turns traveling to Italy and France. Include Dotty, Debby, their sister Diane and brother Bill and the extended family in your prayers.
I plan on being back in Rome next Thursday but this column will be quiet until then. In the meantime, I know you are aware that Pope Francis travels to Sarajevo tomorrow and I thought you might be interested in the remarks made to Vatican television about the trip by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.
VATICAN INSIDER, “THE BEST OF” THIS WEEKEND
Because of my absence, my radio colleagues at EWTN have prepared a “best of” for this weekend I did, however, record the news segment last night so that part of the show is timely.
As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=
POPE FRANCIS IN SARAJEVO: PEACE BE WITH YOU!
(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 that represents the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The colors – 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 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 100,000 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 800,000 to 400,000 people”.
The situation is such – Cardinal 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 favor 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”.