DAILY CATHOLIC     MONDAY     April 12, 1999     vol. 10, no. 71

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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EUROPE SHOULD HAVE ACTED EARLIER, CARDINAL SAYS AS SANT' EGIDIO REP SPEAKS TO ALBANIAN KOSOVO LEADER WHILE UN's RESPONSE TO KOSOVO REFUGEES IS ABORTION, CONTRACEPTION

          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- The warfare in Kosovo is the product of Western indecision in confronting earlier conflicts in the Balkans, according to the archbishop of Sarajevo.

          Cardinal Vinko Puljic told the Italian daily Avvenire: "We are paying today for the hesitation and the weakness of the past eight years, when the Western world should have shown more determination in the face of developments in Yugoslavia when that country was dismantled." The cardinal said that if "those who are intervening in Kosovo today" had acted decisively in 1991, "this new intervention would not have been necessary."

          While saying that "there is no alternative to dialogue," Cardinal Puljic also suggested that there may be times when strong action is necessary-- especially in order to protect those who are least able to defend themselves against violence. He explained: "It can become necessary, in the name of justice, to take draconian action-- in the same way that when medicines are not enough to stop the progress of a disease, surgical intervention may be required." He continued that "once the operation has removed the diseased body, one can return to dialogue."

          Cardinal Puljic said that many refugees have begun arriving in Bosnia, fleeing from the latest fighting. "Many of them are Serbs who are refusing to take up arms," he said. The cardinal expressed fears that the heavy flow of refugees could be "a destabilizing factor" in a region that is already volatile.

          Meanwhile, the leader of a diplomatic contingent from the St. Egidio community has spoken with an Albanian leader in Kosovo, and discussed prospects for a peaceful end to the conflict there, according to a story in the Italian press.

          La Stampa reported that Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia, the head of a team from the St. Egidio community which has become engaged in talks with Yugoslavian government officials, has spoken with Ibrahim Rugova, an Albanian leader who has sought to negotiate with Serbian officials for an end to the fighting and some measure of autonomy for the Kosovo province. Spokesman for St. Egidio in Rome said that they could not confirm the account published in La Stampa, since they had not been in direct contact with Msgr. Paglia since he left for Belgrade on April 6. However, they said that the press story was consistent with their own understanding of the diplomatic mission.

          Rugova is living in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, under house arrest. But Msgr. Paglia told La Stampa that he believes Rugova is able to speak freely, despite being carefully supervised by Serbian officials and threatened by more radical Albanian activists.

          The St. Egidio community, which has gained international prominence for its efforts to mediate disputes, has opened its own diplomatic effort on Kosovo with the tacit approval of the Vatican. And Msgr. Paglia had contacts with Kosovo-- and with Rugova himself-- prior to the latest outbreak of fighting. In 1997, the St. Egidio community helped to arrange an agreement which was signed by Rugova and Serbian President Milosevic, ending a stalemate over the teaching of Albanians in Kosovo's universities.

          Rugova reportedly told Msgr. Paglia that if he is allowed to leave Pristina, he will travel to Rome to seek aid for Kosovo. Rome would be a natural choice for such a mission, Italy is the only NATO country which has maintained open diplomatic relations with the Belgrade government throughout the latest conflict. Moreover the Vatican itself has been heavily involved in efforts to end the fighting.

          In a related and bizarre story, the UN Population Fund said on Thursday that it will send supplies of abortion pills and contraceptives as well as obstetrical equipment to Albania to help Kosovo refugees.

          Dr. Nafis Sadik, director of the fund, said: "The international community must act quickly to protect the displaced women of Kosovo from unwanted pregnancy and the risks of unattended childbirth." She warned that Kosovar women faced the prospect of unwanted pregnancies resulting from rape by their oppressors.

          The kits will provide supplies for about 350,000 people for three to six months, the fund said in a statement, and include so-called "morning after" pills that induce a spontaneous abortion soon after conception. They also include equipment for safe baby deliveries in areas without medical facilities, pictorial instructions, and a razor blade for cutting the umbilical cord of a newborn.


Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

April 12, 1999       volume 10, no. 71
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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