This morning at his Castel Gandolfo summer residence, Benedict XVI received Jasna Krivosic-Prpic, the new ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Holy See. Speaking to the ambassador, the Pope encouraged every effort to be made at bringing peace to the region, which has been torn by ethnic strife.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Holy Father noted, "contains a rich mix of cultures and precious patrimonies. Tragically, however, cultural and ethnic differences throughout history have not infrequently been a source of misunderstanding and friction, ... as each of the three constitutive peoples that make up your country know only too well."
"No person wishes for war," he went on. "No civic or religious group should ever resort to violence or oppression. Yet, so many families in your land have been subjected to the suffering which results from these calamities. Listening to the voice of reason, however, and prompted by the hope that we all desire for ourselves and the generations which follow, every individual can find the strength to overcome past divisions."
Pope Benedict also offered his encouragement for the efforts being made at reconciliation in the region and called on the international community "to continue its efforts to assist Bosnia and Herzegovina to this end. I trust that, in accepting the facts of regional history and the grave lessons to be learnt from recent years, the courage will be found to build a future with a healthy sense of solidarity,” he said.
Long lasting change was also a topic that the Holy Father addressed. “A State's spirit is shaped at many levels,” he explained. "The family home is where children learn the essential values of responsibility and harmonious coexistence. It is here too that prejudices are either born or broken. Every parent therefore has the grave duty to instill in their children, through example, respect for the dignity that marks every person irrespective of ethnicity, religion or social grouping."
"Good schooling not only attends to the cognitive development of children but to the civic and spiritual as well. Teachers ... can do much to discredit any false anthropological ideologies that contain seeds of hostility and to foster an appreciation of cultural and religious diversity in the life of a country."
The communications media, the Pope insisted, "can do much to overcome lingering attitudes of distrust by ensuring that they do not become tools of prejudice but rather transcend particular interests and promote broad-based and inclusive civic goals.”
The government itself must also ensure that peace is attained by pursuing “with vigor its responsibility to strengthen the institutions and extol the principles which lie at the heart of all democracies. ... I am sure that the constitutional reforms which your government is currently studying will address the legitimate aspirations of all citizens, guaranteeing both the rights of individuals and social groups," he said.
The last sector that should contribute to bringing about reconciliation, peace and prosperity is the Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Benedict said.
"For her part the Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina will continue to assist in the attainment of the goals of reconciliation, peace and prosperity. ... She exercises her mission of universal charity in its threefold form: material, intellectual and spiritual.”
The Pontiff concluded by emphasizing that the promotion of “spiritual and moral values ... not only forms part of the transmission of religious traditions but also nourishes the wider culture, motivating men and women of goodwill to strengthen ties of solidarity and to manifest how a united society can indeed arise from a plurality of peoples."