Saturday, October 27, 2007

Bosnian Catholic population in severe decline

Ten years after the brutal civil war in Bosnia the country's Catholic population has taken a steep dive, Vatican Radio reports.

More than half of Bosnia's Catholics have left the nation since 1992, and their exodus continues today.

In one diocese the number of Catholics has declined from 600,000 to 200,000. Many left during the war, but the majority of returnees are elderly.

Young Catholics now leave the country for employment and education but do not return.

Any returning Bosnian Catholics face difficulty in recovering confiscated property and suffer high unemployment.

Regulations hinder rebuilding destroyed property and restoring damaged villages.

In one diocese, Catholics are trying to rebuild all of the churches destroyed by Serbian armies, but regulations require the churches to be built at the same size, despite shrinking congregations that cannot support such buildings.

Some critics have accused the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords of sidelining the rights of Catholics in Bosnia.

In Bosnia religious adherence usually splits along ethnic lines.

The Croat residents are mainly Catholic, while the Serbs are mainly Orthodox. Bosnian Muslims are by far the majority group.

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