National Catholic Register


Worlds Notes & Quotes

BY Jim Cosgrove

May 10, 1998 Issue | Posted 5/10/98 at 2:00 PM


Reversing Ethnic Cleansing

How do you repopulate a country with precisely the people who have been systematically eliminated?

This is the question being asked in Bosnia-Herzegovnia where, the BBC reported April 27, “Political leaders from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Yugoslavia, and Western officials, are meeting in the northern Bosnian town of Banja Luka … to discuss ways of promoting refugee returns throughout the region.”

“The international community wants … to remove obstacles to refugee returns in Croatia. Those obstacles include attempts to prevent Catholics from attending Mass,” the report said.

The BBC noted that the meeting was especially urgent because of a recent upsurge in violence in some areas.

“International officials aim to push through plans to reverse the ethnic cleansing that took place during the war,” it said.

A New Bishop for New Times

Despite the large Catholic population, being a bishop has always been tricky in Croatia, with many competing political and religious factors to take into account.

The Los Angeles Times reported April 26 that the area's new ordinary, Bishop Josip Bozanic, is becoming known for his vigorous leadership.

Bishop Bozanic's refusal to take sides in the nation's many political skirmishes has earned him his reputation for character and boldness.

He is quoted saying, “The Church is neither the political ally nor the political opponent of any group of people. Some think the Church should help those in power. Others think the Church should help those that want power. This is not the Church's duty. The Church should be close to mankind and help those who serve people.”

The report said that President Franjo Tudjman, along with national television, which his political party controls, both snub the bishop. It quotes Jelena Lovric, an independent journalist assessing the bishop's first six months, saying, “Long before the state, the Church has chosen new people for new times.”