Media Watch

Bosnian Archbishop Asks President to Help Catholics

BRITISH BROADCASTING CORP., Feb. 27 — Bosnian Archbishop Franco Komarica has asked the Bosnian Serb Republic's newly elected president to address the most urgent needs of Catholics in the republic, the news service reported.

Archbishop Franjo Komarica, of the Banja Luka area of Bosnia, urged President Mirko Sarovic in a letter to invite Catholics who fled Serb-controlled areas of Bosnia five years ago to come home. Since the conclusion of the Dayton peace accords in 1996, only 1,343 Catholics of the 70,000 exiled from Banja Luka have returned.

Wrote Bishop Komarica, “As far as we know, to date the Bosnian Serb authorities have reconstructed not at least one house of any Catholic returnee, nor have they helped construct infrastructure in the villages where returnees and displaced people decide to come back.”

Iraqi Archbishop Condemns Bombings

FIDES, Feb. 24 — The head of Iraq's Chaldean Catholic Church condemned the recent U.S.-British bombing of a military facility outside the capital city of Baghdad, the missionary news service reported.

Patriarch Raphael Bidawid, leader of Iraq's 1 million Chaldean Catholics, said he had “no words with which to condemn this use of force against the weak,” which he said reflected a lack of respect for the dignity of the people of Iraq. Two civilians died in the bombing and 20 were injured.

Patriarch Bidawid forecast danger if Western nations continued to use force against Iraq. “I am afraid that if the U.S.A. and Britain continue this way, the whole of the Middle East will be set on fire,” he said.

“The more [Iraqi President] Saddam [Hussein] is maltreated the more he is applauded,” the patriarch said. “I appeal to the wisdom and prudence of the governors of these countries: think of the common good which peace can give to all, us and you. If we do not resume dialogue the specter of a war is not improbable and we risk new chaos.”

Hindu Extremists Reject Aid to Earthquake Survivors

RELIGION TODAY, Feb. 23 — Hindu extremists are blocking Christians from giving aid to the victims of India's devastating Jan. 13 earthquake, the Protestant news service reported.

Victims' reports indicate that members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a controversial Hindu nationalist group, are blocking aid from Christians, Christian agencies and other minority religions. The quake struck the northeastern state of Gujarat, a Hindu nationalist stronghold.

“Hindu hotheads are trying to dominate the rescue effort,” said Father Cedric Prakish, director of St. Xavier's Social Service Society. Father Prakish told The Washington Times that after the earthquake struck, he rushed to an understaffed local hospital to help with incoming victims. Instead, he was forced to leave when Hindu volunteers continued to shout at him and jostle him.