Thousands of Catholics want to return
By Eva-Maria Kolmann
In the past two months alone 800 Catholic refugee families living abroad turned to Bishop Franjo Komarica of Banja Luka to obtain assistance for their return to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Thousands of refugees are likewise ready to come back. The chairman of the Bishops’ Conference for Bosnia and Herzegovina passed on this information at a recent meeting with the international Catholic charity “Aid to the Church in Need”. Those willing to return expected assistance from the Church in rebuilding their houses and restoring infrastructure. “That is, in fact, the job of the government,” he emphasised. However, Catholics received only a minimal fraction of the international aid.
The bishop complained about the lack of political will on the part of the Bosnian government and the international community to enable Catholics to return to Bosnia-Herzegovina. In this context he referred to a “well formulated strategy” aimed at eradicating the Catholic presence in the country. Individual politicians openly admitted in personal conversations, he said, that they felt Catholics had “no business being in Bosnia”.
(Bishop Franjo Komarica of the diocese of Banja Luka)
Komarica stated that he has been struggling for many years to “create a state founded on the rule of law”. The Catholic Church simply wants to have the same rights as other sections of the population and “meet its obligation to work together for a better future for the country”, he said. It is “not good for Bosnia to exclude an entire ethnic group”, he added. In his view the Catholics of Croatian origin are “not guests, but the oldest ethnic group”.
Of the 835,000 Catholics who lived in Bosnia-Herzegovina before the war between 1992 and 1995, only 450,000 have remained. 40% of the population is Islamic and around 31% belongs to the Serbian Orthodox Church. The rest belongs to other religious communities. Catholics still make up around 10% of the population.
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 162 languages and 48 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
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