Religions must give a message of peace
During the war in Bosnia he suffered three attacks. He never left the besieged capital, strolling among his people. Yet Cardinal Vinko Puljić, Archbishop of Vrhbosna, Sarajevo, does not put on a heroic attitude. He smiles, remembering those terrible years but with great seriousness sends a message to politics and to the international community: “This city was wounded by the thirst for power, not by religion: religions, on the contrary, can change the rules of the game and give a sign of unity to the country and to the whole world”. It is also to affirm this role of people of faith that the Cardinal wished to host in his own diocese the meeting “Living the future together”, the International Meeting of Prayer for Peace which the Sant'Egidio Community has organized every year since the historic meeting in Assisi, desired by Pope John Paul II in 1986. Twenty years after the war that convulsed the city, for the first time all the religious members of the country have gathered together – and the leaders of the world religions were with them – in order to pray and to discuss the important themes of this epoch. It was Patriarch Irinej of the Serbian Orthodox Church who inaugurated the event, which was a historic gathering; he was visiting the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the first time, he was present at the inaugural Mass in the Catholic Cathedral and spoke at the end of it. This too was a “first time”.
What does this visit mean? It was a very important visit, in order to give this country a positive message. The Gospel unites us and the fact that we Christians in Sarajevo are a minority. The Patriarch came to support the Catholic Church and I was there with the other cardinals in the Orthodox church when he celebrated the Liturgy to give a sign of closeness. He launched an appeal: that the presence of Christians for the young generations, should never disappear. I see this as a beautiful message for the future: it is necessary to change public opinion and Christians must bear witness to unity. And for this reason, Patriarch Irinej's gesture is of fundamental importance.