DAILY CATHOLIC     FRI-SAT-SUN     June 11-13, 1999     vol. 10, no. 113

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Statements by Vatican Spokesman at End of Hostilities

          SIEDLCE, JUN 10 (ZENIT).- At last, peace has come to the Balkans. The Holy See has joined the general applause for the agreement signed by NATO and Yugoslavian representatives, which has allowed the first withdrawals of Serbian troops from Kosovo and an end to the allied aerial bombings.

          From Poland, where he is traveling with John Paul II, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the Holy See's spokesman, expressed "sincere gratitude" to those who have worked so hard for this outcome.

          "This is the time to acknowledge all the different international initiatives which have made this new phase possible, and to encourage Europe, which has waited for so long, to take on the responsibility for the reconstruction of the democratic, social and economic life of the region," he stated in a press release.

          Navarro-Valls went on to say that "a fundamental priority is the refugees' return home in safe conditions," an "indispensable" guarantee.

          The solution to the conflict came about exactly the way the Holy See proposed from the beginning: negotiations at the U.N. headquarters with the cooperation of all those involved, especially Russia.

          Over the past two months, John Paul II never ceased in his efforts to remove obstacles which impeded the climate necessary for negotiations. He had meetings and contacts with all the persons directly implicated in the conflict. On June 3, he met with Kofi Annan to request that the U.N. fulfill its role in the conflict; on Holy Thursday he sent his Secretary for Relations with States to try to bring about a "yes" to an agreement from Slobodan Milosevic.

          The Holy Father also wrote letters to U.S. President Bill Clinton, and to NATO Secretary General Javier Solana. The Vatican further received the Russian mediators and, on several occasions, met with the ambassadors of all the countries involved. The Holy See's apostolic nunciature in Belgrade, directed by Archbishop Santos Abril, became a place of trust and neutral meetings for the ambassadors of all the countries with diplomatic accreditation in Belgrade.

          Meanwhile regarding the future of Slobodan Milosevic, the director of Vatican Radio, Fr. Pasquale Borgomeo, who is traveling with the Pope in Poland, expressed his happiness over peace in the Balkans, but he did not hide his reservations. In commenting on the definitive peace agreement signed by representatives of NATO and Yugoslavia on the night of June 9, Fr. Borgomeo said "it is a peace full of possibilities and hopes, but also full of problems."

    Pacifist Church?

          "Peace is something that must be implemented and built, especially if one reflects on what it means to return a whole people to their land and the many difficulties such an operation will entail," noted the Director of Vatican Radio. "Peace is something very serious. I do not like to label the Church pacifist. I would call the Church a 'builder of peace.' Very often pacifism ... can become an accomplice to the aggressors. The peace the Church has tried to defend and preserve in Kosovo began with efforts at the diplomatic level and when, sadly, force was imposed, the Church hastened to help the victims of this great tragedy."

    Lesson of Kosovo

          The Kosovo war places decisive questions for the future. "I think that everything that has happened in Kosovo makes us rethink our latent convictions because they are linked to concepts and situations of the past," asserted Fr. Borgomeo. "We must now respond to the need to establish ... an international authority that will legitimately intervene in handling serious cases of violations of human rights."

    Milosevic's Future

          Fr. Borgomeo also stated his opinions about the future for Slobodan Milosevic. "I believe Milosevic's future must be decided by the Serbian people, as soon as they can exercise a minimum of democratic rights. There is a judgment pending at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. I think that later there will be a pronouncement by the 'right of history.' But we cannot justify the fact that those who resorted to war for humanitarian reasons now hope to punish the person they consider culpable. I believe moral legitimacy ends at the moment the aggressor is rendered inoffensive. Punishment is not the prerogative of a contender, but of a superior moral authority," the Jesuit director of Vatican Radio said. ZE99061003

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

June 11-13, 1999       volume 10, no. 113


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