DAILY CATHOLIC     THURS-FRI-SAT: EASTER TRIDUUM     April 1-3, 1999     vol. 10, no. 64

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II has confirmed that he is sending a special delegation to Belgrade to advance peace talks with the Yugoslavian government.

          The Vatican delegation-- headed by Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, the Secretary for Relations with States-- will leave Rome on Holy Thursday, April 1. They will meet directly with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, and also with the Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle.

          This latest Vatican diplomatic initiative, announced on March 31, followed the delivery of a personal message from Patriarch Pavle to the Pope. Before formally announcing the special mission, the Vatican consulted with NATO leaders to arrange for the safe conduct of the Church delegation.

          At a March 30 meeting of ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, Cardinal Angelo Sodano insisted that "an end to military operations" is essential to the peace process in Kosovo.

          The Vatican's Secretary of State was speaking to a meeting of diplomats, who had been summoned to a joint session to discuss the crisis in Kosovo. Cardinal Sodano said that the United Nations and other international bodies had a duty to re-establish peace in the region. The diplomats who had been asked to attend the meeting were the Vatican ambassadors of the NATO nations and the nations belonging to the UN Security Council.

          The meeting-- an unprecedented event at the Vatican-- brought together 16 ambassadors, for a two-hour session. Only one of the ambassadors summoned to the meeting failed to attend: the Russian envoy. Diplomatic sources suggested that the Russian government had given the ambassador directions not to attend, fearing that he would be isolated among the diplomats representing NATO. The Russian government has condemned the NATO air strikes, and indicated sympathy toward the claims of Yugoslavia.

          Cardinal Sodano told the ambassadors that Pope John Paul II is deeply concerned by the violence in the Balkan region, and outlined the diplomatic initiatives undertaken by the Holy See in an effort to find a diplomatic solution.

          Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican's chief foreign-policy official, told the diplomats that the Holy See appreciates the efforts made by various international leaders in recent months to produce a negotiated solution to the conflict in Kosovo. He called for the speedy delivery of humanitarian aid to the people afflicted by the violence there.

          The Yugoslavian ambassador to the Holy See, Dojcilo Maslovaric, did not take part in the session, but met separately with Cardinal Sodano and Archbishop Tauran for an hour in the morning prior to the meeting. After that meeting the Yugoslavian envoy praised the diplomatic efforts of the Holy See, adding, "Let us hope that they bear some fruit."

          On March 31, Cardinal Sodano met with several leading Russian political figures, including former Prime Minister Gaidar, who presented the Vatican with "several propositions for an initiative which could re-establish peace in the Balkans."

          Finally, Pope John Paul II has sent Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, the head of the papal charity Cor Unum, to coordinate the efforts of the various Catholic groups working to help the refugees fleeing from Kosovo. Archbishop Cordes will bring a donation of $50,000 from the Pope's charity, as an expression of the Holy Father's solidarity with the local Church. He will also meet with Albanian political leaders before visiting refugee camps near the Kosovo border.

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 1-3, 1999       volume 10, no. 64


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