Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bosnia's Muslims may honour late pope with monument for wartime support

They may not recognize him as a saint, but Muslims in Bosnia are considering honouring the late Pope John Paul II with a monument in the heart of Sarajevo. 
Because of his support for inter-religious and intercultural dialogue, "I think that Pope John Paul II is one of the most important figures of the 20th century," the head of the Bosnian Islamic Community, Mustafa Ceric, told The Associated Press.
Ceric prayed for world peace with the late pope in Assisi.

The almost 90 per cent Muslim population the endured the brutal Serb siege of Sarajevo during the 1992-95 war waited "every Sunday to hear his messages of hope," as the pope never failed to call for an end of their suffering, Ceric said.

"This is why I think he deserves to have a statue here in the city of Sarajevo," he said.

John Paul had wanted to visit Sarajevo at the height of the war in September 1994 but the trip was cancelled after the Serbs said they wouldn't guarantee his safety.

He visited Sarajevo a year after the war ended and tens of thousands jammed the streets to welcome him.

In front of the main Sarajevo Cathedral, he shook hands with the crowd and stroked the foreheads of weeping people, many of them Muslims.

City authorities are now considering erecting the statue in that location in front of the cathedral.

He visited Bosnia again in 2003, travelling to the predominantly Serb city of Banja Luka where he apologized for crimes committed by Roman Catholic Nazi supporters on Christian Orthodox Serbs during World War II.
"In the 21st century we are missing such a personality as John Paul II was," Ceric said.
John Paul II will be beatified by the Vatican on May 1.