DAILY CATHOLIC    WEDNESDAY     September 29, 1999     vol. 10, no. 185


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      Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we spotlight each member of the Conclave in alphabetical order. We find this necessary as our dear Sovereign Pontiff Pope John Paul II grows older, clinging to hope, as we join him, of seeing the light of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart with the dawn of the new millennium - the Jubilee Year 2000. How much longer this 264th successor of Peter has left on this earth only God knows for sure, but His Divine Mercy is evident in allowing him to be with us this long for he truly is a saint for our times, truly Christ's Vicar on earth in these waning days before the glorious Reign of the Sacred Heart, the Time of Peace, the Era of the Eucharistic Presence, the New Pentecost, the Second Advent, the Age of the Holy Spirit. What 1999 will bring we have no idea, nor does anyone else, but with John Paul II at the helm, we feel much more secure in knowing God's Will will be done. Nevertheless, we want to preview the future Pope whether that be soon or much, much later, for no one lives forever and eventually one of those prelates will be selected as the 265th successor of Peter. This will give the reader a better insight into the man whom the Holy Spirit will move the conclave to choose. Thus we bring the reader vignettes on each cardinal in alphabetical order gleaned from the Catholic Almanac, The Official Catholic Directory, Inside the Vatican and other sources.

104.   Cardinal Vinko Puljic

        As Archbishop of Sarajevo, Cardinal Vinko Puljic has been thrown into the throes of war in Bosnia throughout this decade as he consoles and encourages his flock to keep the faith against tremendous odds. He was born in Prijecan, Bosnia-Herzegovina on September 8, 1945. After minor seminary in Zadar, Bosnia he continued his major seminary studies in Sarajevo and Rome and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Banja Luka on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul - June 29, 1970 where he served pastoral work in various parishes including spiritual director for the seminarians at Zadar from 1978 to 1987. For three years he returned to parish work as a full-time pastor before being appointed Vice-Rector of the Major Seminary in Sarajevo in 1990.

        Less than a year later Pope John Paul II announced his elevation to the episcopacy on November 19, 1990 and personally ordained him at St. Peter's as the new Archbishop of Vrhbosna which is Sarajevo on the Feast of the Epiphany - January 6, 1991. His appointment made him Sarajevo's sixth Archbishop since Bosnia-Herzegovina was established as a separate country in 1881 after four centuries of being under Turkish rule.

        Just over a year as shepherd of the See and new problems broke out in April 1992 as Muslim, Croat and Serb began a war within the Bosnia-Herzegovina borders that resulted in countless lives lost, churches destroyed and desecrated and tens of thousands left homeless. Through all this turmoil, especially when Sarajevo was captured by the Serbs and snipers created a daily threat, Archbishop Puljic never abandoned the needs of his people. He was singled out by the Holy Father in a November 1992 letter to the Yugoslav bishops in which the Pope communicated about the Archbishop of Sarajevo, "When I laid my hands on you on January 6, 1991, to consecrate the pastoral office of the Church of Sarajevo, I never imagined your cross would so soon become so heavy and your chalice so bitter." No matter how heavy his cross nor bitter his daily chalice of hardships and sorrowful news about the fate of his people and their property, he never relented in pressing the importance of remaining faithful to God and He will see His faithful through the tribulations visiting them. Finally, as the new millennium is about to dawn that faith is being rewarded as new churches rise from the ashes and the faith remains stronger than ever in Bosnia.

        He was further honored by the Vicar of Christ by being elevated to the Sacred Conclave of Cardinals during the Consistory of November 26, 1994 when he received the titular church of St. Clare in Vigna Clara. Besides his busy duties in Sarajevo he also serves membership in the Roman Curia on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue. Because of his youth - only 54 years old - the Holy See might be grooming him for higher duties within the Curia but it's highly doubtful for his greatest strengths are his pastoral approach to a people greatly in need of his loving touch during this time of recovery and renewal.

September 29, 1999       volume 10, no. 185


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