DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     April 22, 1999     vol. 10, no. 79

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- In a personal letter to the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II, Pope John Paul II has thanked the Eastern Church leader for visiting Belgrade this week.

          As the Patriarch arrived in Yugoslavia, for a visit in which he proclaimed his solidarity with the Serbian people, he received the Pope's letter from the papal nuncio in Belgrade. In that letter the Holy Father said he took comfort in knowing that the spiritual leader of the Russian Orthodox Church was meeting with Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle, and "proclaiming the Easter message of peace." He also expressed his hope that "all those you meet will receive the message you are bringing." The Pope added that the path of peace represents "the only way to re-establish peace and stability" in the troubled Balkan region.

          The Pope also wrote, "It is the duty of all those who profess the Gospel of peace to proclaim with one voice" their opposition to "all forms of violence, ethnic cleansing, deportation of peoples, and exclusion of people from social life."

          During his trip to Belgrade, Patriarch Alexei met with President Slobodan Milosevic and other Serbian leaders, and asked them to "allow all good and peaceful people to return home, without distinctions as to nationality or religion." At the same time, he issued stinging denunciations of the NATO military campaign, which he said was characterized by "hypocrisy" and "perfidy." The Patriarch said, "God is truth and justice, and truth and justice are on the side of our Serbian brothers."

          Noticias Eclesiales' Church News reported today that the Vatican revealed that Pope John Paul II sent a special letter to Archbishop Franc Perko of Belgrade. In it the Holy Father expressed that the "Apostolic See will continue in its commitment to peace so that these people, especially those in Kosovo, who have been so sorely tried, might be spared further suffering."

          "It is with deep sorrow that I am following each and every day the worsening of the tragic humanitarian situation in the various regions of Yugoslavia, especially in Kosovo," says the Pontiff at the beginning of his letter. He later manifests that in these tragic moments "I am particularly close to the pastors and faithful of the Catholic communities, as well as to all people of good will who are making efforts to aid those who are suffering most at this time."

          The Pope reminded "all those responsible for national and international life" that "the way of dialogue is always possible and that such a way can always lead to honorable solutions among the various parties, in the respect of men and women from the same land, who are all children of the same Heavenly Father."

          "Such is the prayer, at this tragic time, of the entire Church, who is closer than ever to you, invoking the Lord with a single voice, that He might soon let the star of peace shine on your beloved land, in the respect for the rights of every creature of God," finally said the Holy Father.

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 22, 1999       volume 10, no. 79


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