DAILY CATHOLIC THURSDAY January 21, 1999 vol. 10, no. 14
NEWS & VIEWS
POPE SEEKS PEACE IN SIERRA LEONE, KOSOVO AS CARDINAL URGES EUROPE TO "DISARM AGGRESSOR" IN KOSOVO
VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II has issued an urgent call for efforts to restore the peace in Kosovo and in Sierra Leone.
At his regular weekly audience on January 20, the Holy Father voiced his "particular closeness and solidarity" with the Archbishop Joseph Ganda of Freetown, Sierra Leone, and the missionaries who are being held hostage there. The Pope prayed "that they might, as soon as possible, be back at liberty, to return to their ministry of evangelization and charity."
Speaking more generally of "the displays of atrocity and cruelty" which have been in the news in recent days "in many parts of the world," the Pope urged all people to pray "for an awakening of conscience in those who guide the destiny of nations," so that they might "turn their hearts toward the building of peace."
In an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Cardinal Angelo Sodano said that the massacre of civilians in Kosovo has made that region the subject of extreme concern among Vatican diplomats.
Cardinal Sodano, the Secretary of State for the Holy See, said that "those who have the ability"-- in particular the leaders of the international community-- should "separate the adversaries" in Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians seeking greater autonomy for self-government have been routed by Serbian forces representing the government of Yugoslavia, which controls Kosovo.
The cardinal said that international leaders should "disarm the aggressor" in the Kosovo conflict. That phrase echoes a request made by Pope John Paul II during the height of civil war in Bosnia; he too asked for the European powers to "disarm the aggressor." (In each case, the "aggressor" could be identified as Serbian.) That mandate seems clearly to imply that the conflict is in fact an act of aggression rather than a civil conflict, and that world leaders should take the necessary steps not merely to stop the conflict and separate the warring factions but also to make eliminate the ability of "the aggressor" to undertake similar acts in the future.
However, these efforts by the international community need not consist of
military acts, Cardinal Sodano said. Rather, operations should be aimed at
"restoring the peace." In working toward peace, he said, one important point
is the status of existing treaties. Many treaties have been made, he observed,
but then "openly violated." He argued: "Treaties are violated when the moral
conscience of the contracting parties is obscured." It is impossible, the
cardinal concluded, to "build a human civilization without a solid moral
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NEWS & VIEWS