Multi-faith Bosnia Unites in Preparation for Pope Francis’ Visit

Italy - Religion - Pope Francis Leads General Audience

Pope Francis’ news of  visiting Bosnia next week is already uniting the multi-faith nation of Bosnia and they are joyously preparing for his visit.

Pope Francis will visit Bosnia next week on June 6. The visit has already united this small, multi-faith nation in Southeastern Europe as the country’s Catholic Croats, Orthodox Serbs and Muslim Bosniaks all prepare together for the pontiff’s arrival.

Tanja Topic, an analyst at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in the city of Banja Luka, told Reuters that “citizens from all ethnic groups openly express joy about his visit.” She thinks that this has to do with Francis’ message about peace, unity and tolerance. The pope has been tireless in his efforts to spread harmony across the world that is facing ever-growing tensions on many fronts.

In the town of Zavidovici, a Muslim woodcarver Salim Hajderovac decided to make a chair for the pope with the papal coat-of-arms and emblems of Bosnian Catholic shrines. The local Catholic priest and parish were first surprised, but then agreed to co-finance making of the chair. Hajderovac told Reuters: “I can’t tell you how much this means to me.”

The pope’s visit will be a personal wonder of some sort for Marin Cvitkovic, a Bosnian Catholic mailman and pigeon breeder. According to the Crux, Francis will release some of Cvitkovic’s white pigeons from the steps of the capital Sarajevo’s presidential palace as a uniting gesture for Bosnia, which has suffered from political and ethical tensions for decades and gone through a bloody war in the nineties. Cvitkovic hoped that his pigeons will finally bring normal life to the people of Bosnia.

Francis will also listen to a children’s choir of Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Muslims in Sarajevo. While these ethnic groups have largely remained at odds with each other, their children have found unity in Srebrenica’s Superar Choir. The Idaho Statesman reports that the 220 children, aged between 5 and 17, have been rehearsing together for four years now. Ismar Poric, who heads the choir, describes it as “a multi-ethnic project of reconciliation.”

Francis will be the third pope to visit Bosnia since the end of the 1992-95 war, which tore the country and its ethnic groups apart.


Follow the Conversation on Twitter