Pope John Paul II received on Thursday members of the committee that organized his pastoral visit on June 22, 2003 to Bosnia Herzegovina, and called on the Church in the country to promote a spiritual renewal to bring peace and prosperity.
Addressing the delegation headed by Bishop Franjo Komarica of Banja Luka, President of the Bishops’ Conference, the Pope recalled that in Banja Luka he beatified lay scholar Ivan Merz and urged that “his bright example of holiness inspire lay Catholics to commit themselves to bear witness to the Gospel, the criterion and fundamental guide for Christians in all times.”
Referring to entries from Blessed Merz’s diary in 1918, when Europe was at war and he was on the frontlines, the Holy Father recalled his words: “‘Never forget God! Always seek to be one with Him!’ These words have special meaning to your country which is working to overcome much suffering which is the consequence of an oppressive regime and a long war.”
The Pontiff said it is always necessary “to cultivate an authentic spiritual renewal which will lead to forgiveness, reconciliation and mutual respect for the cultural and religious identity by all.”
He concluded by saying: “These are the ways that lead to the creation of a prosperous and peaceful society, one that is free and solid; this is the way that makes the long anticipated return of refugees and exiles to their homeland possible, in an atmosphere of safety and total freedom.”