Relations between the fledgling Eastern European countries Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Holy See took a big step forward today as Pope Benedict received the country’s president in an audience, solidified a diplomatic agreement with their government, and was invited to visit by the president Zeljko Komsic to visit the region.
The Pope highlighted that Catholic Church has helped bring stability to the war-torn region by working to reconcile the different ethnic and religious groups in the area. One of the key players in maintaining this delicate balance has been Cardinal Vinko Puljic, archbishop of Vrhbosna, who was also present at the audience.
The newly ratified agreement recognizes “the juridical status of the Catholic Church and her institutions in ... civil society, …her independence to worship and practice the apostolate, and … the specific contribution she makes in the cultural, educational, pastoral, military, ... and charitable fields, as well as in the country's mass media."
During President Komsic’s discussions with Pope Benedict, mention was made of how the Church is contributing to the fields of education, social and charitable activities, and pastoral assistance to the Catholic faithful.
The Vatican Press Office briefly noted that President Komsic invited the Holy Father to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina.
More in-depth coverage of the situation of the Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found here.