DAILY CATHOLIC     EASTER SUNDAY     April 4, 1999     vol. 10, no. 65

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran returned to Rome late on the evening of Holy Thursday, after an urgent diplomatic mission to Belgrade during which he met with Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic and Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle.

          The Vatican's top foreign-affairs official carried a personal message from Pope John Paul II, begging for an "Easter truce" to stop the warfare over Kosovo and allow time for negotiations. Milosevic has not formally responded to that appeal, but the NATO powers have rejected a similar plea from the Holy Father. US President Bill Clinton said that an Easter truce "would not serve to honor the occasion."

          Archbishop Tauran noted that the appeal for an Easter truce-- to extend at least through the Orthodox observance of Easter on April 11-- had the support of many religious leaders, including especially the Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle. He acknowledged that a truce would have to be enforced "on the ground," so that military forces could not "take advantage of the situation." But he added that the truce would give humanitarian agencies opportunities to begin providing help to the thousands of people who have already been left homeless by the fighting in and around Kosovo.

          In a related initiative, the eight cardinals of the United States wrote to both Clinton and Milosevic, asking both leaders to join in a truce agreement. "We have called upon President Slobodan Milosevic to order the immediate cessation of Serbian military and police operations against the population of Kosovo," the American prelates wrote to Clinton, "and in turn we call upon you, Mr. President, for a cessation of NATO bombing."

          After speaking for an hour with Milosevic, Archbishop Tauran told reporters that he had offered any permanent solution to the Kosovo crisis, but had conveyed "the profound concern of the Pope over this dramatic situation, which is causing enormous suffering for innumerable people." The talk took place at the residence of the papal nuncio in Belgrade.

          The archbishop said that Pope John Paul "is close to all those who are suffering, without distinctions of race, religion, or ideology." He added that the Pontiff maintains his desire "that all people be respected, with equal dignity," and that the "history and rights" of all groups be respected. The Holy See espouses no political cause, he elaborated; but every day the Pope receives an overwhelming number of appeals from people who are suffering from abuses.

          "The Pope is convinced that diplomacy is useful," Archbishop Tauran continued. He pointed to the cooperation between the Holy See and the Serbian Orthodox Church as an example of effective ecumenical work, and productive diplomacy by Church leaders.

          "I think that, right now, there are neither victors nor vanquished," Archbishop Tauran concluded; "I hope and pray that my visit might have helped in the appeal to the heart, and to the voice of conscience." During his day-long trip the Vatican diplomat also met with Yugoslavian Foreign Minister Jovanovic, and Serbian President Milan Milutinovic.

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 4, 1999       volume 10, no. 65


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