DAILY CATHOLIC FRI-SAT-SUN April 30 - May 2, 1999 vol. 10, no. 85
NEWS & VIEWS
MILOSEVIC CLOSES BORDER TO ITALIAN CARITAS
Stopped Aid to Belgrade and Chance to Pray for Peace with Serbs
ROME, APR 29 (ZENIT).- The delegation of the Italian Caritas, on its way to Belgrade with aid for the victims of the NATO bombing and the hope of encouraging prayer groups for peace, was turned away at the Yugoslavian border and unable to complete its mission.
The delegation was led by the president of Italian Caritas himself, Bishop Benito Cocchi, who was accompanied by other leaders of the Catholic humanitarian organization.
The group was held up at the Bajakovo border post and, after three hours of waiting, were denied entrance and had their visas cancelled. Arguing with the authorities proved useless; after 24 hours, the delegation was forced to return.
"Beyond the distress and disappointment of the delegation," Cocchi said, "there is grave concern because of the seriousness of the incident. Henceforth, efforts to sensitize public opinion, regarding peace and solidarity and the needs of the Serbian population, victimized by war, will be that much more difficult. Italian Caritas confirmed its determination to carry out its mission of prayer, peace and solidarity, as soon as possible, hoping that it will not be faced with incomprehensible difficulties again."
The mission to Belgrade was part of a larger peace initiative which sent
delegations to all the countries affected by the war. The one led by Bishop
Cocchi was of "special significance and importance," given the task Italian
Caritas is carrying out in Serbia, "where it has supported the projects of
the local Caritas directed to the elderly, the mentally ill, and the
handicapped, in an ecumenical spirit of sharing and solidarity." Caritas
stressed that the mission had been prepared "through contacts with
diplomatic and governmental authorities and with the highest authority of
the Serbian Orthodox Church."
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NEWS & VIEWS