Yugoslavia's Roman Catholics Invite Pope John Paul II
Bishops representing Yugoslavia's Roman Catholic minority have invited Pope John Paul II to visit the country, the Beta news agency reported Saturday.
News of the invitation came in a message the bishops sent to Patriarch Pavle, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which is historically and doctrinally opposed to Roman Catholicism.
The pope was expected to visit former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, but his trip was cancelled and never rescheduled due to the decade-long sequence of ethnic wars that tore the federation apart.
Most people in Yugoslavia, which now comprises only Serbia and Montenegro, belong to the Orthodox religion, but the country has strong Catholic community in the northern province of Vojvodina.
The bishops presented their letter to Pavle, informing him of their invitation to the 80-year-old pontiff, as part of a new initiative to improve ties between the two churches.
In their message the bishops' expressed regret that it had not been possible to organize a joint celebration with their Orthodox brethren of the start of the third Christian millennium.
"In the new democratic Yugoslavia -- a reference to the election of new President Vojislav Kostunica -- we want to develop closer relations between the Yugoslav Catholicism and Serbia's Orthodox church," the message cited by Beta added -- BELGRADE (AFP)
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