Pope urges a turn to peace
Pope Francis heard about the horrors of Bosnia’s fratricidal war of the 1990s and the slow process of healing as he visited Sarajevo to urge Muslims, Orthodox and Catholics to put the “barbarity” of the past behind them and work together for a peaceful future.
Thousands of Bosnians cheered Francis, lining the motorcade route through the mostly Muslim city of 300,000. About 65,000, most of them Catholics, packed the same Sarajevo stadium where St. John Paul II said an emotional postwar Mass of reconciliation in1997.
The most poignant moment of the day came when two Catholic priests and a nun told Francis of their experiences during the war, of being kidnapped, tortured and starved by Muslim or Serb Orthodox Christian troops. Moved by the testimony, Francis bowed down to one of them and asked for his blessing.
Francis told a gathering of priests and nuns in Sarajevo’s cathedral that they must never forget the “cruelty” inflicted on their fellow Catholics — not to seek vengeance, but to show the power of forgiveness.