DAILY CATHOLIC     WEDNESDAY     March 31, 1999     vol. 10, no. 63

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- The Vatican's Secretary of State has summoned 20 ambassadors-- representing the nations that are members of NATO and of the UN Security Council-- for a special March 30 meeting to discuss the situation in Kosovo and the prospects for a peaceful solution.

          Cardinal Angelo Sodano has also met with the Yugoslavian ambassador, Dojcilo Maslovaric. The prospects for that conversation were clouded by the appearance of an interview with Maslovaric, appearing in the Italian daily Il Messaggero. In that interview, the Serbian envoy was quoted as saying, "We will resist to the finish." Maslovaric also said that Serbian forces were "protecting Europe from some NATO directors," and charged that NATO's offensive against the Yugoslav republic is a violation of international law. "It is right that we should defend ourselves," he concluded.

          Meanwhile Pope John Paul II met with Italian President Luigi Scalfaro, in another Vatican effort to stimulate peace talks. Il Messaggero reported that the Pontiff and the Italian president agreed that the United Nations should take a central role in peace efforts, and that European nations should become active in seeking a negotiated solution. The Holy Father had emphasized the same message during an earlier meeting with Didier Opertti, the Uruguayan diplomat who now serves as president of the UN's General Assembly.

          In yet another related development, the Vatican is expecting to receive a personal message to Pope John Paul from the Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle. The message will be conveyed to the Vatican Secretariat of State on March 31 by a delegation of Russian envoys. While awaiting news of that message, the Italian press has noted the public statement issued by Patriarch Pavle on March 29, in which the Orthodox leader told a Yugoslavian television audience that "all the countries of the world" should unite in an effort to stop the NATO air strikes. Patriarch Pavle also called on Serbian authorities to join in the pursuit of a negotiated peace.

          Finally, Belgrade's Archbishop Frank Perko professed his "great confidence" in the Vatican's diplomatic efforts, as well as in the efforts of Russian Prime Minister Primakov. The Belgrade archbishop noted that the Serbian media had shown a "lively appreciation" of the diplomatic efforts by the Holy See. "We cannot favor the war," Archbishop Perko said; "But the massacres in Kosovo must also stop."

          In a related story, ethnic Albanian Catholics in Zagreb, Croatia said on Monday they had received reports of attacks on Catholics in Kosovo, including an unconfirmed assault on worshippers in a church.

          Father Ndue Ballabani, head of an Albanian Catholic mission in Croatia, said he had received reports from the city of Pec where Serbs allegedly locked about 80 churchgoers in the Catholic church where they had gathered to pray and seek shelter on Sunday. The Serbs then took them to an unknown location while ordering the priest to stay behind. The majority of Serbs are Orthodox Christians and majority of the ethnic Albanian Kosovars are Muslim, although a significant minority of Albanians are Catholic.

          CWNews.com and the Fides Vatican missionary news service reported on Monday that monks in the city of Djakovica were evicted from the monastery by Serb troops whose barracks had been bombed in NATO attacks on Friday. Several of the monks are still missing.

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.

March 31, 1999       volume 10, no. 63


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