DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     April 8, 1999     vol. 10, no. 69

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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VATICAN CAUTIOUSLY WELCOMES SERB CEASE-FIRE AS POPE MEETS UN REFUGE COMMISSIONER

          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- The Holy See has welcomed Yugoslavia's announcement of an Easter cease-fire, while remaining insistent on the need for a negotiated end to the warfare over Kosovo.

          "To continue the violence of recent days would represent a grave obstacle to the search for a negotiated peace," the Vatican said in a statement released April 6, shortly after the announcement from Belgrade. The statement indicated that the Yugoslavian initiative could be "an important step toward peace," but recognized that any progress would depend upon "a welcoming attitude on the part of all the parties involved."

          The Vatican Secretariat of State indicated that it would continue to watch developments with "great anxiety." The official statement stressed that any continuation of warfare-- either bombing by NATO forces or military operations inside Kosovo by Serbian troops-- would inevitably be destructive to the cause of peace.

          Meanwhile the Pope met Wednesday with Sadako Ogata, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, to discuss the "humanitarian catastrophe" caused by the flood of refugees from Kosovo.

          After the meeting-- which took place at the Vatican after the Pope's regular public audience-- the Vatican indicated that the Holy Father had expressed his appreciation for the efforts undertaken by 56 nations to ease the suffering of the refugees. He also assured the UN official that Catholic welfare organizations would do their best to cooperate in these efforts.

          While welcoming the news that a number of countries will provide temporary refugee for the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing from Kosovo, the Holy See has insisted that the ultimate goal of any international effort must be to ensure that these families will eventually be able to return to their homes. At a recent Geneva meeting convened by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Vatican representatives also called on all international organizations to support diplomatic efforts to establish a "humanitarian corridor" allowing the free delivery of relief supplies to Kosovo.

          After meeting with the Pope, Ogata also spoke briefly with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.


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April 8, 1999       volume 10, no. 69
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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