Skip to comments.Catholics feel threat from Muslims, Bosnian government says cardinal
Posted on 05/07/2006 1:01:34 PM PDT by Doctor13
WASHINGTON - Catholics in Bosnia-Herzegovina feel pressure, threats and discrimination from an unfair political system and from Muslims financially backed by Islamic countries, said the head of the Bosnian bishops' conference.
Successful dialogue between Catholics and Muslims, which is solely "about coexistence," depends on the political situation, Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo told Catholic News Service in a May 2 interview.
During the 1992-1995 war for independence and up to today, radical influences from Eastern Islamic countries infiltrated into Bosnia, the cardinal said through a translator during a visit to Washington.
Bosnian Muslims have access to funding and permits to build their mosques, but Catholics do not have access to either, he said. The cardinal said he has been waiting for a building permit for eight years, whereas "the Muslims, whenever desired, they get" a building permit.
In the Serb republic - one of the two Bosnian federations divided along ethnic lines since the 1995 Dayton peace accords - Orthodoxy is the state religion, so it is also financially and politically secure, the cardinal said. The other federation is Muslim- and Croat-controlled. The central federal government has a rotating presidency.
The plight of the country's Croatians -- most of whom are Catholic - is not really about churches, the cardinal said. Catholics in the country are not protected by the government and the police and do not have a voice in the media; they need employment and infrastructure, he said.
Because Catholics do not have access to the media, there is "no way to get our views across," so it seems like discrimination does not exist, the cardinal said.
Meanwhile, most of the Catholic refugees displaced during the war have not been able to return, he said.
To return to Bosnia-Herzegovina, refugees need to prove to the government that they own land, the cardinal said, "but on the other hand, everything was taken away from them. Documents were burned. ... It's an impossible situation ... it's easier to go to another country."
More than 10 years after the Dayton peace accords, "barely 12,000 of the 220,000 refugees" have returned, he said, adding that international funds designated to help the refugees have not been given to Catholic Croats. The cardinal also said that since Jan. 1 donations to Catholic agencies have been taxed 17 percent by the government.
"All we want is that which the other has," he said. "All we want is the same rights as Muslims and Serbs."
Cardinal Puljic said the Bosnian bishops' conference has proposed constitutional reforms that include multiethnic rights and would squash fears that rights would be "taken away even more."
Sometimes Catholics feel like "we are toys in the hands of great players," the cardinal said.
He said he is concerned with the country's youths, who "do not see any perspective regarding their political future."
Cardinal Puljic told CNS that the actual number of Catholics living in the former Yugoslav republic is unclear, although he estimates that 14 percent of the population of approximately 4.5 million is Catholic. The government has not held a census since before the war, the cardinal said, adding, "They don't want to do that because it (census) will make clear the ethnic cleansing."
While he was in Washington, the cardinal visited the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He also met with representatives of the U.S. Institute of Peace and discussed interfaith relations, the status of Catholics in Bosnia and constitutional reform.
Milosevic was right.
THe Catholic News Service should have entitled this article "Catholic/Orthodox relations still a unholy mess". That seems to be the tenor of the Cardinals comments instead of Muslims really. Orthodox and Catholics still hold the wildest grudges and believe the wildest things about each other in that region.
If it weren't for the UN and NATO bowing to the Bosnian Muslims, the Catholics would be safely reunified with Croatia and the Orthodox Christians with Serbia & Montenegro.
What Mr. Puljic is hinting at is a separate Croat entity (hence "the same rights as Muslims and Serbs"). They should've thought of this and similar issues before ganging up on the Serbs in 1992.
It is up to the imperial overlords in Bosnia to allow the Croats their own province/region/whatever to come into existence and the Serbs have nothing to do with that.
Yes, I noticed that the Serbs have no power in that part of Bosnia. Well, looks like the RC may to all move to the Catholic country of Croatia which is almost Serb and muslim free.
The Croats were initially allies of the Bosnian Muslims and even allowed weapons and fighters for the Muslims to come through Croatia. Croatia skimmed off a significant percentage of the weapons for itself, however. For a time, when the foreign fighters (Mujahideen) and some local Muslim forces attacked Croats (approx. Oct 1992-Feb 1994), Croatia halted the "humanitarian aid" to Bosnia.
However, the U.S. State Department wanted those factions to kill and ethnically cleanse Serbs together, and brokered a deal to reunite them in late February 1994. Together again, the Muslims and Croats attacked Serbs until the end of the war.
Croats, though, are unhappy in the Muslim-Croat Federation they joined in with the Muslims. The Muslims are oppressive and have ways to create a slow, permanent ethnic cleansing by making it hard to survive, examples which were outlined in the article.
The Croats want a separate entity, like the Serbs have, to control themselves. They feel that's the only thing which could guarantee longtime survival in Bosnia.
The Muslims would be against that, as they are against the existance of the RS. They want control over all Bosnia where they would dominate. The Serbs would be in the same position as the Croats if they lose the RS, which is why they don't want the government centralized. Centralization is doom for everyone but the Muslims who do not and will not run a government fairly and respecting rights of Croats and especially Serbs.