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06.05.2017 | 15:13 | IKA E - 190094/5

Joint Statement by the Justice and Peace Commissions of the Bishops' Conferences of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia

Zagreb, (IKA) – On May 6, the members of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Bishops' Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina gathered at the headquarters of the Diocese of Banja Luka on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the commission. They were joined by members of the corresponding commissions of the Croatian and Slovenian bishops' conferences. A special guest also participated at the jubilee session, Cardinal Peter Turkson, for many years the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and now the prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, a newly established body of the Holy See. From this joint session, the participants issued a statement to the Church and general public.
Promoting justice and peace, in the spirit of the gospel and the social doctrine of the Catholic Church, the bishops jointly and individually "appealed and undertook measures to prevent the war, to stop the war that was being imposed and to establish a just and lasting peace for all the inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They constantly championed the fundamental human and civil rights and freedoms of all peoples and religions. They spoke out decisively against all types of wartime and postwar crimes and violence." During the postwar years and decades, the bishops of the Bishops' Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina "warned of the imposed, controlled and administered chaos in the unfairly organized, dysfunctional and excessively expensive state creation, where it was neither possible to achieve nor guarantee the necessary progress or a more secure future for all the peoples and citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina." The war, which drove hundreds of thousands of citizens from their homes, destroyed their lives and property, was the project of a state or states. "Therefore, the reconstruction of houses, the return [of former inhabitants] and the creation of conditions for a normal life should also be a project of a state or states. The commission has believed and continues to believe that no one, in the name of any goals whatsoever, has the right to declare the return of the displaced persons and refugees completed until Annex 7 of the Dayton Peace Accord has been implemented and until the expelled Croats—Catholics obtain the same conditions that others have for their sustainable return," emphasize the bishops.
The bishops urge all those responsible to approach fundamental constitutional changes in Bosnia and Herzegovina more decisively, based on the principles of federalism, decentralization, subsidiarity and the legitimate representation of the constituent peoples and national minorities. During all the postwar years, the international community has left Bosnia and Herzegovina, as its "semi-protectorate," to be an "area of uncertainty" instead of a peace zone. It is certainly clear to every humane person that maintaining such "controlled chaos" in Bosnia and Herzegovina "represents a latent threat not only to a stable peace in this part of Europe but also to world peace," according to the bishops' statement. Again, on this occasion, the commission repeats the fact that today the Catholics in Bosnia and Herzegovina are the most endangered part of the Catholic Church on the entire continent of Europe.
Together with expressions of gratitude to the Holy Father, Holy See and bishops, the bishops also thank European politicians, particularly those from Croatia and Slovenia, who have contributed to the creation of the Report by the European Parliament dated February 20, 2017, on the current situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It expresses readiness to help the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina more efficiently than in previous years, within the framework of the process of stabilization and accession to the European Union.
The statement was signed by the presidents of the three commissions: Archbishop Stanislav Zore, Bishop Vjekoslav Huzjak and Bishop Franjo Komarica.

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