Pope Francis' Visit to Sarajevo  June 2015

 

Pope Francis to Sarajevo Faithful: I Come to You as a Messenger of Peace

Sends Video Message Ahead of Saturday’s Apostolic Visit

By Junno Arocho Esteves

Rome, June 02, 2015

“I am preparing myself to come among you as a fraternal messenger of peace, to express to everyone - to everyone! - my respect and friendship.”

Pope Francis said these words in a video message addressed to the people of Sarajevo and Bosnia & Herzegovina. The Holy Father will be visiting the country on Saturday, June 6th.

In his message, the Pope said that he was visiting in order to “confirm the Catholic faithful in the faith, to support ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, and above all to encourage peaceful coexistence in your country.”

Addressing the people of Bosnia & Herzegovina, the 78-year-old Pontiff encouraged the faithful to stand side by side with their fellow citizens as “witnesses of faith and the love of God.”

Concluding his message, Pope Francis expressed his joy at his upcoming visit and invoked a blessing upon the country.

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The following is a translation of the Holy Father’s video message:

Dear brothers and sisters,

There are only a few days left until the journey that will take me in your midst, in Sarajevo. This thought gives me joy, and I wish now to address my most cordial greeting to you all who live in this city and in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

I come among you, with the help of God, to confirm the Catholic faithful in the faith, to support ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, and above all to encourage peaceful coexistence in your country. I invite you to join in my prayers, so that this Apostolic trip may produce the desired fruits for the Christian community and for the whole society.

“Peace be with you”. This is the theme of my Visit. They are words with which the Risen Jesus greeted his disciples when he appeared in their midst in the Cenacle, the evening of Passover. It is He, the Lord, our strength and our hope, who gives us His peace, so that we may receive Him in our hearts and to spread it with joy and love.

For my part, I am preparing myself to come among you as a fraternal messenger of peace, to express to everyone - to everyone! - my respect and friendship. I would like to announce to every person, every family, every community the mercy, tenderness and love of God.

Dear brothers and sisters of Bosnia and Herzegovina,

I assure to you all my affection and my strong spiritual closeness. I encourage you Catholics to stand beside your fellow citizens as witnesses of faith and the love of God, working for a society that walks towards peace, in brotherhood and mutual cooperation.

Awaiting to meet you, I invoke upon Sarajevo and upon the entire country the blessing of the Lord and the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary.

Thank you and see you soon!

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 Pope's Address to Authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina

"I have come here as a pilgrim of peace and dialogue..."

By Staff Reporter

Sarajevo, June 06, 2015

Here is a Vatican translation of Pope Francis' address to authorities and diplomatic corps at about 10 a.m. this morning in the presidential palace during his one-day apostolic visit to Sarajevo:

***

Dear Ministers of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Dear Chairman of the Presidency,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I wish to thank the members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina for their kind welcome, and in a special way for the cordial welcome extended to me by His Excellency Mladen Ivanić Chairman of the Presidency, on behalf of everyone. I am pleased to be in this city which, although it has suffered so much in the bloody conflicts of the past century, has once again become a place of dialogue and peaceful coexistence. Bosnia and Herzegovina has advanced from a culture of conflict and war to a culture of encounter.

Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina have a special significance for Europe and for the whole world. For centuries in these lands, communities were present who professed different religions, who belonged to distinct ethnic and cultural groups, each endowed with its own rich characteristics; each fostered its own traditions, without these differences having impeded for any length of time the establishment of mutually fraternal and cordial relationships.

The very architecture and layout of Sarajevo reveals visible and substantial characteristics of these different communities, each a short distance from the other – synagogues, churches and mosques – so much so that Sarajevo has been called “The Jerusalem of Europe”. Indeed it represents a crossroads of cultures, nations and religions, a status which requires the building of new bridges, while maintaining and restoring older ones, thus ensuring avenues of communication that are efficient, sure and fraternal.

We need to communicate with each other, to discover the gifts of each person, to promote that which unites us, and to regard our differences as an opportunity to grow in mutual respect. Patience and trust are called for in such dialogue, permitting individuals, families and communities to hand on the values of their own culture and welcome the good which comes from others’ experiences.

In so doing, even the deep wounds of the recent past will be set aside, so that the future may be looked to with hope, facing the daily problems that all communities experience with hearts and minds free of fear and resentment.

I have come here as a pilgrim of peace and dialogue, eighteen years after Saint John Paul II’s historic visit, which took place less than two years after the signing of the Dayton Peace Accord. I am happy to see the progress which has been made, for which we must thank the Lord and so many men and women of good will. However, we should not become complacent with what has been achieved so far, but rather seek to make further efforts towards reinforcing trust and creating opportunities for growth in mutual knowledge and respect. In order to favour this path, the solidarity – solidarity! - and collaboration of the International Community is fundamental, in particular that of the European Union and of all Countries and Organizations operating in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is indeed an integral part of Europe, the successes and tragic experiences of the former are integrated fully into the latter’s history of successes and tragedies. They constitute, too, a clear call to pursue every avenue of peace, in order that processes already underway can be yet more resilient and binding.

In this land, peace and harmony among Croats, Serbs and Bosnians, and the initiatives taken to extend these even further, as well as the cordial and fraternal relations among Muslims, Hebrews and Christians, and other religious minorities, take on an importance that goes beyond its boundaries. These initiatives offer a witness to the entire world that such cooperation among varying ethnic groups and religions in view of the common good is possible; that a plurality of cultures and traditions can coexist and give rise to original and effective solutions to problems; that even the deepest wounds can be healed by purifying memories and firmly anchoring hopes in the future. I saw this at my arrival this morning in the Muslim, Orthodox, Jewish, Catholic and children of other religions whom I met at the airport – together and joyful! This is a sign of hope! May we stake our future on this.

In order to successfully oppose the barbarity of those who would make of every difference the occasion and pretext for further unspeakable violence, we need to recognize the fundamental values of human communities, values in the name of which we can and must cooperate, build and dialogue, pardon and grow; this will allow different voices to unite in creating a melody of sublime nobility and beauty, instead of the fanatical cries of hatred.

Responsible politicians are called to the important task of being the first servants of their communities, taking actions which safeguard above all the fundamental rights of the human person, among which the right to religious freedom stands out. In this way it will be possible to build, with concrete measures, a more peaceful and just society, working step-by-step together to solve the many problems which people experience daily.

In order for this to come about, it is vital that all citizens be equal both before the law and its implementation, whatever their ethnic, religious or geographical affiliation. All alike will then feel truly involved in public life. Enjoying the same rights, they will be able to make their specific contribution to the common good.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Catholic Church, by means of the prayer and the works of her faithful and her institutions, is taking an part in the process of material and moral reconstruction of Bosnia and Herzegovina, sharing the country’s joys and concerns. The Church is committed to offering her particular solicitude and closeness to the poor and to those most in need, inspired by the teaching and example of her Divine Master, Jesus.

The Holy See praises the work carried out in these recent years, and is determined to continue promoting cooperation, dialogue and solidarity, in the sure knowledge that peace and mutual listening in an ordered and civil society are indispensable conditions for authentic and lasting development. Through the contribution of all, and leaving behind completely the dark clouds of storms gone by, the Holy See fervently hopes that Bosnia and Herzegovina may continue along the journey embarked upon, so that after the winter chill, springtime may come to blossom. And already we see spring blooming here.

With these thoughts I implore the Almighty for peace and prosperity in Sarajevo and all of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Thank you.

[00940-EN.02] [Original text: Italian]

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Pope Francis' Homily at Koševo Stadium

"Today, dear brothers and sisters, the cry of God’s people goes up once again from this city, the cry of all men and women of good will: war never again!"

By Staff Reporter

Sarajevo, June 06, 2015

Here is a Vatican translation of Pope Francis' homily during the Mass he celebrated which begun at 11 a.m. this morning at Koševo Stadium during his one-day apostolic visit to Sarajevo:

***

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The word peace echoes several times through the Scripture readings which we have just heard. It is a powerful, prophetic word! Peace is God’s dream, his plan for humanity, for history, for all creation. And it is a plan which always meets opposition from men and from the evil one. Even in our time, the desire for peace and the commitment to build peace collide against the reality of many armed conflicts presently affecting our world. They are a kind of third world war being fought piecemeal and, in the context of global communications, we sense an atmosphere of war.

Some wish to incite and foment this atmosphere deliberately, mainly those who want conflict between different cultures and societies, and those who speculate on wars for the purpose of selling arms. But war means children, women and the elderly in refugee camps; it means forced displacement of peoples; it means destroyed houses, streets and factories; it means, above all, countless shattered lives. You know this well, having experienced it here: how much suffering, how much destruction, how much pain! Today, dear brothers and sisters, the cry of God’s people goes up once again from this city, the cry of all men and women of good will: war never again!

Within this atmosphere of war, like a ray of sunshine piercing the clouds, resound the words of Jesus in the Gospel: “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt5:9). This appeal is always applicable, in every generation. He does not say: “Blessed are the preachers of peace”, since all are capable of proclaiming peace, even in a hypocritical, or indeed duplicitous, manner. No. He says: “Blessed are the peacemakers”, that is, those who make peace. Crafting peace is a skilled work: it requires passion, patience, experience and tenacity. Blessed are those who sow peace by their daily actions, their attitudes and acts of kindness, of fraternity, of dialogue, of mercy... These, indeed, “shall be called children of God”, for God sows peace, always, everywhere; in the fullness of time, he sowed in the world his Son, that we might have peace! Peacemaking is a work to be carried forward each day, step by step, without ever growing tired.

So how does one do this, how do we build peace? The prophet Isaiah reminds us succinctly: “The effect of righteousness will be peace” (32:17). Opus justitiae pax (“the work of justice is peace”), from the Vulgate version of Scripture, has become a famous motto, even adopted prophetically by Pope Pius XII. Peace is a work of justice. Here too: not a justice proclaimed, imagined, planned... but rather a justice put into practice, lived out. The Gospel teaches us that the ultimate fulfilment of justice is love: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Mt 22:39; Rm 13:9).

When, by the grace of God, we truly follow this commandment, how things change! Because we ourselves change! Those whom I looked upon as my enemy really have the same face as I do, the same heart, the same soul. We have the same Father in heaven. True justice, then, is doing to others what I would want them to do to me, to my people (cf. Mt 7:12).

Saint Paul, in the second reading, shows us the attitude needed to make peace: “Put on then... compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Col 3:12-13).

These are the attitudes necessary to become artisans of peace precisely where we live out our daily lives. But we should not fool ourselves into thinking that this all depends on us! We would fall into an illusive moralizing. Peace is a gift from God, not in the magical sense, but because with his Spirit he can imprint these attitudes in our hearts and in our flesh, and can make us true instruments of his peace. And, going further, the Apostle says that peace is a gift of God because it is the fruit of his reconciliation with us. Only if we allow ourselves to be reconciled with God can human beings become artisans of peace.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, today we ask the Lord together, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, for the grace to have a simple heart, the grace of patience, the grace to struggle and work for justice, to be merciful, to work for peace, to sow peace and not war and discord. This is the way which brings happiness, which leads to blessedness

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Text of Pope's Prepared Address to Bosnian Priests, Religious, Seminarians

"What does it mean, today, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for a priest or consecrated person to serve the Lord’s flock? I think it means to carry out a pastoral ministry of hope"

By Staff Reporter

Bosnia And Herzegowina, June 06, 2015

Here is a Vatican translation of the address Pope Francis had prepared to give today in Sarajevo at a meeting with priests, religious and seminarians. After hearing a testimony from a priest, a male religious and a woman religious, the Holy Father said he would leave the text aside and reflect on the testimony they gave. 

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

I greet you with affection, and I ask you to express my warmest greetings to the members of your Congregations and Institutes who, because of illness or old age, cannot be here but are spiritually united to us. I thank Cardinal Puljić for his words, as well as Sister Ljubica, Father Zvonimir and Brother Jozo for their testimonies. I thank you all for your service to the Gospel and to the Church. I come to your land as a pilgrim of peace and dialogue, to strengthen and to encourage my brothers and sisters in the faith, and in particular you, who are called to work “full time” in the vineyard of the Lord. He says to us, “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20). This certainty fills us with consolation and hope, especially when your ministry experiences difficulties. I think of the sufferings and trials both past and present in your Christian communities. Although you have lived through these circumstances, you did not halt, you endured, and worked hard to confront personal, social and pastoral challenges with a tireless spirit of service. May the Lord bless your efforts!

I can imagine that the Catholic Church’s being numerically a minority in your country, coupled with the failures that sometime occur in ministry, may at times make you feel like Jesus’ disciples when, although having toiled all night long, they caught no fish (cf. Lk5:5). However, it is precisely in these moments, if we entrust ourselves to the Lord, that we experience the power of his word, the strength of his Spirit, which renews trust and hope in us. The fruitfulness of our service depends above all on faith: faith in Christ’s love, from which, as Saint Paul reminds us, and which he know from experience, nothing can separate us (cf. Rom 8:35-39)! Fraternity within our communities also sustains and strengthens us: fraternity among priests, among men and women religious, among consecrated lay persons, among seminarians. In fact, fraternity among all of us, whom the Lord has called to leave everything so as to follow him, gives us joy and consolation, and renders our work ever more fruitful. We are witnesses to fraternity!

“Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock” (Acts 20:28). With these words - recorded in the Acts of the Apostles - Saint Paul reminds us that if we want to help others become holy we cannot neglect ourselves, that is, neglect our own sanctification. And vice versa: dedication to God’s faithful people, being close to them in their lives, especially to the poor and the needy, helps us be conformed ever more to Christ. Attention to one’s own sanctification and pastoral charity towards people are two sides of the same coin and are mutually enriching. They must never be separated.

What does it mean, today, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for a priest or consecrated person to serve the Lord’s flock? I think it means to carry out a pastoral ministry of hope, caring for the sheep that are in the sheepfold, but also going out in search of those who await the Good News and who do not know where to find it, or who on their own cannot find their way to Jesus. It means to meet the people where they live, including those sheep who are outside the sheepfold, far away, who may not yet have heard of Jesus Christ. It means taking care of the formation of Catholics in their faith and in their Christian lives. Encouraging the lay faithful to be protagonists in the evangelizing mission of the Church. For this reason, I exhort you to develop Catholic communities open and “going forth”, able to welcome and to encounter, and to be courageous in their evangelical witness.

The priest, the consecrated person, is called to live the anguish and the hope of the people; to work in concrete circumstances often characterized by tensions, discord, suspicions, insecurities and poverty. Faced with these painful situations, we ask God to grant us hearts that can be moved, capable of showing empathy; there is no greater witness than to be close to the spiritual and material needs of the faithful. It is the task of us bishops, priests and religious to make the people feel the nearness of God; to feel his comforting and healing hand; to be familiar with the wounds and tears of our people; to never tire of opening our hearts and offering a hand to all who ask us for help, and to all those who, perhaps because they feel ashamed, do not ask our help, but who are in great need of it. In this regard, I wish to express my deep appreciation to Religious Sisters for everything they do with such generosity, and above all for their faithful and dedicated presence.

Dear priests, dear men and women religious, I encourage you to carry out joyfully your pastoral ministry whose effectiveness is the fruit of faith and grace, but also the fruit of a humble life, one detached from worldly concerns. Please, do not fall into the temptation of becoming a self-absorbed élite. The generous and transparent witness of priestly and religious life sets an example and gives encouragement to seminarians and to all those whom the Lord calls to serve him. Standing by the side of young men and women, inviting them to share experiences of service and prayer, you will help them to discover the love of Christ and to open themselves up to the call of the Lord. May the People of God see in you that faithful and generous love which Christ has left to his disciples as a legacy.

I wish also to offer a word to you, dear seminarians. Among the many beautiful examples of priests and consecrated men in your country, we remember in particular the Servant of God Petar Barbarić. His example unites Herzegovina, where he was born, to Bosnia, where he made his religious profession, as he also unites all priests, diocesan or religious. May this young candidate for the priesthood, whose life was so full of virtue, be a powerful example to each one of you.

The Virgin Mary is always near us, as a caring mother. She is the first disciple of the Lord, the first example of a life dedicated to him and to his brothers. When we find ourselves in difficulty, or when faced with a situation that makes us feel the depth of our powerlessness, let us turn to her with childlike trust. Then she always says to us – as at the Wedding at Cana – “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). She teaches us to listen to Jesus and to follow his word, but to do so with faith! This is her secret, which as a mother, she wishes to transmit to us: faith, a genuine faith, enough so that even a grain of it can move mountains!

By abandoning ourselves in trust, we can serve the Lord with joy, sowing hope everywhere. I assure you of a remembrance in my prayers and I bless each of you and your communities. I ask you please, do not forget to pray for me.

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Pope's Address to Interreligious and Ecumenical Gathering in Sarajevo

It is always worth remembering, however, that for dialogue to be authentic and effective, it presupposes a solid identity: without an established identity, dialogue is of no use or even harmful. I say this with the young in mind, but it applies to everyone.

By Staff Reporter

Bosnia And Herzegowina, June 06, 2015

Here is a Vatican translation of the address Pope Francis gave today in Sarajevo at an interreligious and ecumenical meeting.

* * *

Your Eminence, 
Distinguished Religious Authorities, 
Dear Friends,

I am pleased to take part in this meeting, which brings together representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s religious confessions. I offer cordial greetings to each one of you and to your communities, and I thank each of those who offered the kind words and we have just heard.

Today’s meeting is a sign of our shared desire for fraternity and peace; it is a testimony to the friendship and cooperation that has been developing over the years and which you already experience daily. To be present here today is already a “message” of that dialogue which everyone seeks and strives for.

I wish especially to recall one of the fruits of this desire for encounter and reconciliation, namely, the establishment in 1997 of a local Council for Interreligious Dialogue, which brings together Muslims, Christians and Jews. I am pleased by the work which this Council does to promote dialogue, coordinate common initiatives and develop relations with State Authorities. Your work in this region is immensely important, particularly in Sarajevo, which stands as the crossroads of peoples and cultures. Here, on the one hand, diversity constitutes a great resource which has contributed to the social, cultural and spiritual development of this region, while, on the other, it has also been the cause of painful rifts and bloody wars.

It is not by chance that the birth of the Council for Interreligious Dialogue and other valuable initiatives in the area of interreligious and ecumenical work came about at the end of the war, in response to the need for reconciliation and rebuilding a society torn apart by conflict. Interreligious dialogue here, as in every part of the world, is an indispensible condition for peace, and for this reason is a duty for all believers (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 250).

Interreligious dialogue, before being a discussion of the main themes of faith, is a “conversation about human existence” (ibid.). This conversation shares the experiences of daily life in all its concreteness, with its joys and sufferings, its struggles and hopes; it takes on shared responsibilities; it plans a better future for all. We learn to live together, respecting each other’s differences freely; we know and accept one another’s identity. Through dialogue, a spirit of fraternity is recognized and developed, which unites and favours the promotion of moral values, justice, freedom and peace. Dialogue is a school of humanity and a builder of unity, which helps to build a society founded on tolerance and mutual respect.

For this reason, interreligious dialogue cannot be limited merely to the few, to leaders of religious communities, but must also extend as far as possible to all believers, engaging the different sectors of civil society. Particular attention must be paid to young men and women who are called to build the future of this country. It is always worth remembering, however, that for dialogue to be authentic and effective, it presupposes a solid identity: without an established identity, dialogue is of no use or even harmful. I say this with the young in mind, but it applies to everyone.

I sincerely appreciate all that you have managed to accomplish up to this point and I encourage each of you in your efforts for the cause of peace of which you, as religious leaders, are the first guardians here in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I assure you that the Catholic Church will continue to offer her full support and willingness to help.

We are all aware that there is a long way yet to go. Let us not be discouraged, however, by the difficulties, but rather continue with perseverance along the way of forgiveness and reconciliation. While we seek to recall the past with honesty, thereby learning the lessons of history, we must also avoid lamentation and recrimination, letting ourselves instead be purified by God who gives us the present and the future: he is our future, he is the ultimate source of peace.

This city, which in the recent past sadly became a symbol of war and destruction, today, with its variety of peoples, cultures and religions, can become again a sign of unity, a place in which diversity does not represent a threat but rather a resource, an opportunity to grow together. In a world unfortunately rent by conflicts, this land can become a message: attesting that it is possible to live together side by side, in diversity but rooted in a common humanity, building together a future of peace and brotherhood.

I am grateful to you all for your presence and for the prayers which you will, of your goodness, offer for my ministry. For my part, I assure you that I will pray for you. May the Lord bless us all.

PRAYER

Almighty and eternal God, 
good and merciful Father; 
Creator of heaven and earth, of all that is visible and invisible; 
God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, 
King and Lord of the past, of the present and of the future; 
sole judge of every man and woman, 
who reward your faithful with eternal glory!

We, the descendents of Abraham according to our faith in you, the one God, 
Jews, Christians and Muslims, 
humbly stand before you 
and with trust we pray to you 
for this country, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 
that men and women, followers of different religions, nations and cultures 
may live here in peace and harmony.

We pray to you, O Father, 
that it may be so in every country of the world! 
Strengthen in each of us faith and hope, 
mutual respect and sincere love 
for all of our brothers and sisters.

Grant that we may dedicate ourselves 
courageously to building a just society, 
to being men and women of good will, 
filled with mutual understanding and forgiveness, 
patient artisans of dialogue and peace.

May each of our thoughts, words and actions 
be in harmony with your holy will. 
May everything be to your glory and honour and for our salvation. 
Praise and eternal glory to you, our God! 
Amen.

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Pope's Address to Priests and Religious

Dear sisters and brothers, you must not forget your history, not in order to hold grudges, but in order to create peace.

By Staff Reporter

Bosnia And Herzegowina, June 06, 2015

Here is a Vatican Radio translation of the address Pope Francis gave today off the cuff during his meeting in Sarajevo with priests and religious. He said he decided to speak from the heart after listening to the testimonies of a priest and two religious who explained their experience of persecution.

* * *

I prepared a discourse for you but after hearing the testimony of the priests and woman religious, I feel I need to speak to you off the cuff. They told us about their experiences, good and bad things, so I shall leave my discourse with the Cardinal Archbishop. It’s a good discourse!

The witnesses spoke for themselves. This is the memory of your people. A people that has no memory has no future. This is the memory of your fathers and mothers in the Faith. Only three people spoke but behind them are many others who suffered as well.

Dear sisters and brothers, you must not forget your history, not in order to hold grudges, but in order to create peace. Not to consider that history as something strange, but to love as they loved. In your blood, in your vocation, is the vocation and blood of these three martyrs. There is the blood and the vocation of many religious, priests and seminarians.  The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Hebrews, tells us not to forget those who have gone before us, those who have transmitted the Faith to us. These people have transmitted the Faith to you, and taught you how to live the Faith. The Apostle Paul tells us not to forget Jesus Christ, the first martyr. These people have followed in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. We need to restore memory in order to make peace.

A few words are lodged in my heart: one of these is “forgiveness”. A man and a woman who consecrate their lives to the Lord, but don’t know how to forgive, are worth nothing. Forgiving an enemy who says something bad to you, or a sister who is jealous, isn’t difficult. But forgiving someone who kicks you and hurts you, who threatens your life with a gun, that is hard to forgive. Yet they did this, and they tell us we should do the same. Something else that stays with me is the 120 days in the concentration camp. How many times the spirit of the world causes us to forget those who have preceded us with their suffering? Those days in the concentration camp were counted by the minute because every minute, every hour, was torture: living together, filthy, without food or water, in the heat and the cold, and for so long. And we who complain when our tooth hurts, or because we want a TV in our room, or more creature comforts, or we gossip about the superior because the food isn’t good enough. Don’t forget the testimonies of those who went before. Think how much they suffered. Think about the six-litre blood transfusion the first priest received in order to keep him alive. Carry a cross that is worthy of Jesus Christ. Worldly sisters, priests and bishops are caricatures who are worth nothing because they do not remember the martyrs. They don’t remember Jesus Christ crucified who is our only glory.

I think of (the story we were told about) the militiaman who gave a pear to the sister, and the Muslim woman who lives in America now, and who fed the priest. We are all brothers and sisters, even that cruel man. I don’t know what he was thinking, but he felt the Holy Spirit. Maybe he remembered his mother when he gave that pear to the sister. And that Muslim woman who went beyond religious difference, she believed in God. Seek the God of all. We all have the possibility to seek the seeds of Good, because we are all Children of God. Blessed are you who have these witnesses so close to you. Please never forget them. May our lives grow though these memories. I think of the priest whose parents and sister died, he was left alone but he was the fruit of love, marital love. I think of the sister, she too was a daughter. I think of what the Cardinal Archbishop said: what happens to the Garden of Life? Why doesn’t it flourish? Pray for families so that they may flourish with many children and that there may be many vocations. 

Finally, I would like to tell you that what we have heard is a story of cruelty. Today, in wars around the world, we see so much cruelty. Be the opposite of cruel: be tender, fraternal, forgiving. And carry the cross of Jesus Christ. That’s what Holy Mother Church wants of you: to be small martyrs, small witnesses of the Cross of Christ. May God bless you and please pray for me. 

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Text of Pope's Prepared Speech to Youth in Sarajevo

I encourage you not to let yourselves be overcome by the difficulties, but to let the strength that comes from your being human and Christian flourish without fear

By Staff Reporter

Bosnia And Herzegowina, June 06, 2015 Here is a Vatican translation of the text Pope Francis had prepared for his meeting with youth in Sarajevo. He did not give the address, instead having an informal question-and-answer session with the young people.

* * *

Dear Young Friends,

I have greatly wished to have this meeting with you, young men and women of Bosnia and Herzegovina and nearby countries.  I offer to each one of you a warm greeting.  Being here in this Centre dedicated to Saint John Paul II, I cannot forget how much he did for young people, meeting them and encouraging them all around the world.  To his intercession I entrust each of you, as well as every initiative which the Catholic Church has undertaken in your land to express her closeness to young people and indeed her confidence in them.  We are on this journey together!

I know the doubts and the hopes that you have in your hearts.  Some of these have been expressed by Bishop Marko Semren and your representatives, Darko and Nadežda.  In a special way, I join you in hoping that new generations may be offered real prospects for a dignified future in your country, thus avoiding the sad phenomenon of mass migration.  In this regard, institutions are being called upon to put in place timely and courageous plans that will help young men and women to realize their legitimate aspirations; they will thus be able to contribute energetically to the upbuilding and growth of the country.  The local Church, for her part, can contribute by means of suitable pastoral projects, focusing on educating the civic and moral conscience of the youth, and so help them to be protagonists in society.  The Church’s commitment can already be seen, especially through the precious work of her Catholic schools, which are rightly open not only to Catholic students but to students of other Christian communities and other religions.  However, the Church must always dare to hope for more, starting from the Gospel and driven by the Holy Spirit who transforms persons, society, and the Church herself.

Young friends, you also have a decisive role to play in confronting the challenges of our times: certainly material challenges, but more so those which concern the vision of the human person.  In fact, along with economic problems, difficulty in finding work and the consequent uncertainty regarding the future, there is a crisis of moral values and a diminished sense of the purpose of life.  Faced with this critical situation, some may give in to the temptation to flee, to avoid the problems, becoming self-absorbed, taking refuge in alcohol, drugs, or ideologies which preach hatred and violence.  These are realities which I know well because they were unfortunately also present in Buenos Aires, where I come from.  Thus I encourage you not to let yourselves be overcome by the difficulties, but to let the strength that comes from your being human and Christian flourish without fear; you will be then be able to sow seeds of a more just, fraternal, welcoming and peaceful society.  Together with Christ, you young men and women are the vitality of the Church and society. If you let Christ form you, if you are open to dialogue with him in prayer, by reading and meditating upon the Gospel, you will become prophets and witnesses to hope!

You are called to this mission: to reclaim the hope in your present circumstances of being open to the wonders of living; the hope which you have to overcome the way things are; hope to prepare for the future marked by a more dignified social and human environment; hope to live in a more fraternal world which is more just and peaceful, more genuine, worthier of the measure of mankind.  My hope is that you will be always more aware that you are sons and daughters of this earth which has given life to you.  This earth asks you to love her and to help her rebuild, to grow spiritually and socially, also with the help of your ideas and your work.  To overcome every trace of pessimism, you will need the courage to offer yourselves joyfully and with dedication to the building of a welcoming society, a society which is respectful of all differences and oriented towards a civilization of love.  An great example of this way of living is seen in Blessed Ivan Mert.  Saint John Paul II Beatified him in Banja Luka.  May he always be an example for you and be your protector.

The Christian faith teaches us that we are called to an eternal destiny, to be sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters in Christ (cf. 1 Jn 3:1), who create fraternity for the love of Christ.  I am so pleased by the ecumenical and interreligious works taken up by you, young Catholics and Orthodox, with the involvement of Muslim young people as well.  The John Paul II Youth Centre plays a central role in this important work, with initiatives that deepen mutual understanding and solidarity, allowing the various ethnic and religious groups to coexist peacefully together.  I encourage you to continue this work, dedicating yourselves to common projects with real gestures that show your closeness and support to the poorest and most needy.

Dear young people, your joyful presence, your thirst for truth and high ideals are signs of hope!  Being young does not mean being passive, but rather means being tenacious in your efforts to achieve important goals, even if this comes at a price.  Being young does not mean closing your eyes to difficulties: instead, it requires a refusal to compromise or be mediocre.  It does not mean escaping or fleeing, but engaging rather in solidarity with everyone, especially the weakest.  The Church counts on you and will continue to count on you who are generous and capable of great energy and noble sacrifices.  For this reason, together with your pastors I ask you: do not isolate yourselves, but rather be ever more united among yourselves so that you may enjoy the beauty of fraternity and be always more fruitful in your actions.

Everyone will see that you are Christians by how you, young Christians of Bosnia and Herzegovina, love one another and how committed you are to service.  Be not afraid; do not flee from reality; be open to Christ and to your brothers and sisters.  You are a vital part of that great people who make up the Church: a universal people, a people in whom all nations and cultures can receive God’s blessing and can discover the path to peace.  With this people, each of you is called to follow Christ and to give your life to God and to your brothers and sisters, in the way that the Lord will reveal to you, or perhaps is revealing to you now! Will you respond? Do not be afraid.  We are not alone.  We are always in the presence of God our heavenly Father, with Jesus our Brother and Lord, in the Holy Spirit; and we have the Church and Mary our Mother.  May she protect you and always give you the joy and courage to witness to the Gospel.

I bless each of you, and I ask you please to pray for me.

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Pope’s Words to Youth in Sarajevo

"From you I expect honesty, but honesty between what you think, what you feel, and what you do"

By Staff Reporter

Bosnia and Herzegovina, June 09, 2015

The final event of the Pope’s trip last Saturday to Sarajevo was a meeting with youth. He put aside his prepared text and had an informal question-and-answer session with the young people.

Here is a provisional ZENIT transcription and translation of the event:

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[Regarding a question about the Pope’s use of television]

In the mid 90s I saw that it didn’t do me good, it alienated me ... When I wanted to watch a good film, I went to the television center of the Archbishopric and I watched only that film. Television took me outside; it alienated me. It didn’t do for me ...

It’s true, I’m of the Stone Age, I am antique.

I understand that times have changed and we live in the time of the image and this is important. In the time of the image one must do the same as one did in the time of books. Choose, read the things that do one good.

First: the responsibility of the television centers to make programs that do one good, which do good to values, which send us forward, that do not bring us down. And then to make programs that help us; which make true values become stronger and prepare us for life. This is the responsibility of television centers.

Second: to know how to choose programs. It is our responsibility. If I see that a program doesn’t do me good, which pulls down values, makes me become vulgar, also in filthy things, I must change the channel. As was done in my Stone Age, that when a book was good one read it, when it was bad it was thrown out. Evil imagination that kills the soul: if you who are young live attached to the computer, and become a slave of the computer, you lose your freedom. In seeking filthy programs on the computer you lose your dignity. Watch TV, use a PC but for lovely things, for great things, for things that make us grow.

Have you ever felt the joy and love that young people of Bosnia and Herzegovina have for you?

To tell the truth, when I meet young people I feel the love and joy that they have, not only for me, but for ideals for life, they want to grow.

But you have a singularity: I believe you are the first generation after the War. You are the flowers of a Spring, which wishes to go forward and not turn to destruction, to things that make enemies of one another. I find this desire in you, this enthusiasm, and this is new for me.

I see that you don’t want destruction, you don’t want to make enemies of one another; you want to walk together. All of you, I’m sure, all of you who look within yourselves have the same experience of Darko. They are not they and I; we want to be an “us,” not to destroy the homeland, the country. You are Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, but we are a “we.”

Never build walls!

Everyone speaks of peace; some powerful ones of the earth speak lovely things about peace but surreptitiously sell arms.

From you I expect honesty, but honesty between what you think, what you feel, and what you do – the three things together. The opposite is called hypocrisy,

Years ago I saw a film on this city; I don’t remember the name, but the German version was “The Bridge.” And I saw there how a bridge always unites, however when the bridge is not used to go to the other, but is a prohibited bridge, it becomes the ruin of a city, the ruin of an existence.

I expect from you, this first post-War generation, honesty, not hypocrisy, to effect union, to be able to go from one part of bridges to another, and this is fraternity.

(Among the gifts: a bas-relief of John Paul II).

If Mir Vama (peace be with you) is true, you who are of the post-War Spring, make peace, work for peace, all together. May it be from this evening a country of peace.

(The Pope comes out from the Center and greets the young people who remained outside on the Square).

Good evening to you all. Mir Vama. And this is the task I leave you: to make peace, all together! These doves are a sign of peace -- the peace that will bring you joy. And peace is made among all ... among all ...Muslims, Islamists, Jews, Orthodox, Catholics, other religions ... we are all brothers, we all adore the one God – let there never be separations between us, but fraternity and union. Now I take my leave and I ask you, please, to pray for me. May the Lord bless you! Mir Vama!

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Pope's Press Conference on Flight from Sarajevo to Rome

Pope Francis gave a seven-minute press conference on the 90 minute flight back from Sarajevo on June 6.  He was in amazingly good form, totally energized, in spite of a hectic eleven-hour, action packed visit, and in the short time available he insisted on greeting individually each of the more than 60 reporters that accompanied him.

He then responded to questions:  He first addressed the question of Medjugorje –the shrine connected with the alleged apparitions of Our Lady, and revealed that he will take a decision soon.  Then he spoke about those who speak of peace but foment war by trafficking in arms. In answer to a third question, he talked about the risk of becoming slaves of the computer, and the need to exercise judgment about which television programs to watch.  Pressed at the end by a French reporter, he confirmed he would go to France as he had promised the bishops there, but he didn’t say when.

Note:  The following is my own translation of the entire press conference.

Many pilgrims have come here from Croatia and there is much interest on whether you will go to Croatia. And since we are in Bosnia-Herzgovina many are asking what is your judgment on the phenomenon of Medjugorje?

On the problem of Medjugorje:  Benedict XVI, in his day, set up a Commission headed by Cardinal Ruini, composed of other cardinals and theologians.  They made a study, and Cardinal Ruini came to me and gave me the study after many years of work, three or four I think.   They did a good job, a good job.  Cardinal Muller (note: prefect of the Congregation for the Faith) told me that in these days he would hold a session (of the congregation) on this question.  I think it was held on the last Wednesday of the month, but I am not sure.   We are going to take decisions soon, and then they will be communicated.  For the moment, only some orientations will be given to the bishops, on the paths to be taken.  (NB.  Fr Federico Lombardi, Director of the Vatican Press Office said later that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has not yet held the meeting mentioned by the Pope)

As for the visit to Croatia, I don’t know when it will be.  I remember the question you asked when I went to Albania.  (You said) you begin the visit to Europe but starting with a country that’s not in the European Union. And  answered: it’s a sign. I want to begin the visit to Europe in small countries, and in the Balkans there are martyred countries that have suffered much.  

You have spoken about those who deliberately foment the climate of war, and then you told the young people: there are powerful ones who speak of peace but under the table they straffick in arms.  Could you say something more on this?

There’s always hypocrisy, and for this reason I said that it’s not sufficient to speak of peace.  Peace must be made. The one who only talks of peace but does not make peace contradicts himself. The one who speaks of peace but foments war, for example, by selling arms, is a hypocrite.

You spoke in some detail to the young people, in your last talk, about the need to exercise much care in what they read and what they see  (on TV and in the computer): you didn't exactly use the word 'pornography', but you used the word 'bad fantasies'.  Could you elaborate a little more on this concept? 

There are two different things: the modalities and the contents. As regards the modalities, there is one that can do harm to the soul and that is being too attached to the computer.  This harms the soul and takes away freedom; one becomes a slave of the computer. It’s interesting that in many families, the fathers and mothers tell me that when we’re at table with the children, they are on the cellular phones and in another world.  It’s true that virtual language is something we cannot ignore; it’s progress for humanity. But when it takes us away from the family, from social life, from sport, from art and we remain attached to it, then for sure it is a psychological illness.

Secondly, as for the contents: Yes, there are ‘dirty things’ that go from pornography to semi-pornography, from empty programs devoid of values, to ones that are relativistic, hedonistic and consumeristic, which foment all these things.  We know that consumerism is a cancer of society, relativism is a cancer of society, and I speak about this in the next encyclical that will be issued this month. I used the word ‘dirty’ in a general sense.

There are parents that are very concerned and do not allow computers in the rooms of their children, they must be in a common place in the home.  This is a small help that the parents give their children to avoid these things.

Pressed by a French reporter at the end of the press conference (the question was not audible) whether he would visit France, given the ‘problems’ with the French government. (Reporters interpreted this as an allusion to the fact that the Holy See has not yet given its agreement to the candidate proposed by the Government to be its ambassador there, allegedly because he is homosexual.), he responded:

I will go to France.  I promised the French bishops that I would go. As for problems: little problems are not problems!

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Text of Pope's Press Conference on Return Flight From Sarajevo

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City State, June 08, 2015

Below is a ZENIT translation of the press conference with Pope Francis and journalists on board the plane held on the return flight from Sarajevo to Rome Saturday evening:

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Father Lombardi: Holiness, thank you for being here in our midst, and for having greeted us all. We thought that you would be very tired this evening and therefore, that we could not take advantage  ... Then we saw you “unleashed” with the young people. So, okay, now we can also ask you some questions.

Pope Francis: What does “unleashed” mean? Explain it to me well ...

Father Lombardi: It means that you were really full of energy. The young people were very happy. Now we have chosen three questions by drawing lots and then, if you wish, we will ask others, otherwise we will stay with the three questions ...

The first we ask of our Croat Silvije Tomasevic, who is here:

Silvije Tomasevic: Good evening, Holiness, naturally many Croats have come here on pilgrimage, who ask if Your Holiness will come to Croatia ... However, as we are in Bosnia and Herzegovina there is much interest in your judgment on the phenomenon of Medjugorje.

Pope Francis: On the issue of Medjugorje, in his time Pope Benedict XVI established a Commission headed by Cardinal Camillo Ruini; there were also other Cardinals, theologians and specialists there. They carried out the study and Cardinal Ruini came to me and gave me the study, after so many years – I don’t know, 3-4 years more or less. They did a good job, a good job. Cardinal Muller [Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] told me that he had had a “feria quarta” [an apposite meeting] during those times. I believe it was held the last Wednesday of the month, but I’m not sure ... [Note of Father Lombardi: in fact, there has not yet been a feria quarta dedicated to this subject]. We are there to make decisions. Then they will be told. For the moment only some guidelines are given to Bishops, but along the lines that will be decided. Thank you!

Silvije Tomasevic: And the visit to Croatia?

Pope Francis: The visit to Croatia? I don’t know when it will be. Now I remember the question that you asked me when I went to Albania: “You begin the visit in Europe to a country that does not belong to the European Community,” and I answered: “It’s a sign. I would like to begin to make visits in Europe, beginning with the smallest countries and the Balkans, [they] are martyred countries, they have suffered so much!” They have suffered so much ... And that’s why my preference is here. Thank you!

Father Lombardi: Now, the second question will be asked by Anna Chiara Valle of “Famiglia Cristiana.”

Anna Chiara Valle: You have spoken of those who deliberately foment a climate of war and then you said to young people: it is the powerful who speak openly of peace and surreptitiously trade in weapons. Can you deepen this concept?

Pope Francis: Yes, there is always hypocrisy! Therefore, I have said that it’s not enough to talk of peace: peace must be made! And one who only speaks of peace and doesn’t make it is in contradiction; and one who speaks of peace and favors war – for instance, with the sale of arms – is a hypocrite. It’s that simple ...

Father Lombardi: Then the third question is Katia Lopez Hodoyan’s of the Spanish-speaking group.

Katia Lopez Hodoyan: (question in Spanish). Holy Father, in your last meeting with young people you spoke in detail of the need to pay much attention to what they read, to what they see; you did not say exactly the word “pornography,” but you said “evil reveries.” Can you deepen this concept of the waste of time...?

Pope Francis: They are two different things: the ways and the contents. On the ways, there is one that harms the soul and it is to be too attached to the computer. Too attached to the computer! This does harm to the soul and takes away freedom: it makes one a slave of the computer. It’s curious, in many families the father and mother tell me: we are at table with our children and they are with their phone in another world. It’s true that virtual language is a reality that we can’t deny: we must lead it on the right path, because it’s a progress of humanity. However, when this takes us away from common life, from family life, from social life, but also from sport, from art and we remain attached to the computer, this is a psychological sickness -- certainly! Second: the contents. Yes, there are filthy things, which go from pornography to semi-pornography, to empty programs without values: for instance, relativistic, hedonistic, consumerist programs that foment all these things. We know that consumerism is a cancer of society; relativism is a cancer of society; I shall speak about this in the next Encyclical, which will come out this month. I don’t know if I’ve answered you. I have said the word “filth” to say something general, but we all know this. There are parents who are very concerned who do not allow computers in their children’s rooms. The computers should be in a common place of the home. These are little helps that parents find to avoid precisely this.

Father Lombardi: Thank you, Holy Father! The organization says that the distribution of food must be done and these other things ... We will land in half an hour...

Pope Francis: Thank you for your work, for your effort on this trip. Thank you so much, thank you so much for your work! And pray for me, thank you!

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