DAILY CATHOLIC THURSDAY April 8, 1999 vol. 10, no. 69
NEWS & VIEWS
SANT'EGIDIO SENDS PEACE ENVOY TO BELGRADE AS WORD THAT KOSOVO CATHOLICS MAY BE ESCAPING BRUTAL TREATMENT SURFACES
ROME (CWNews.com) - The Sant'Egidio Community, a Catholic peace organization, said on Wednesday that it was sending an envoy to Belgrade to work out a resolution to the war in Kosovo and the NATO air strikes.
Spokesman Mario Marazziti said Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia was scheduled to meet with Yugoslav authorities, but did not know whether President Slobodan Milosevic would attend. "His trip has two objectives. The first is the humanitarian issue, the setting up of a humanitarian corridor, which is dear to the Community," Marazziti said. Pope John Paul has suggested that Yugoslavia set up a humanitarian corridor to help hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanian Kosovars who have been fleeing persecution.
"The second is to intensify ecumenical relationships with the Orthodox Patriarch (Pavle) of Belgrade," Marazziti added. "For Sant'Egidio, peace is necessary immediately, a peace which helps to alleviate the wounds of the people. Every minute that passes is a minute lost." In 1997, Monsignor Paglia negotiated an agreement between Milosevic and ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova to reopen Albanian language schools in Kosovo.
It was reported yesterday that Catholics in Kosovo may be escaping the most brutal treatment by Serbian military forces, according to the Vatican news agency Fides.
Catholics in Kosovo are a small minority within a minority; most of the people of Kosovo are Albanian Muslims, and the Christian minority there is primarily Orthodox. The Catholic population has always held a delicate position during the recent years of conflict between Serbs and Kosovars, Fides points out, explaining: " if they work for respect for human rights they risk being accused by the Serbs of collusion with terrorism; if they try to dialogue with the Serbs, the Muslim Albanian majority-- with which they are on very good terms-- could accuse them of 'collaborating' with the Serb authorities."
Fides was unable to contact Bishop Marko Sopi, an auxiliary in the Diocese of
Skopje, Macedonia, who exercises pastoral responsibility for the Albanian
Catholics in Kosovo. But the Byzantine-rite Bishop Joakim Herbut-- also of
Skopje-- reported that Latin-rite Catholics in Kosovo had been able to
celebrate Easter freely. Bishop Herbut said that he had met a number
Catholics who had left Kosovo to escape the fighting, but their homes had not
been destroyed nor had they been personally mistreated or threatened by
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NEWS & VIEWS