Pope Francis to Bosnian Catholics, Muslims: Let brutal history be motive for peace

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Pope Francis speaks with young people in a youth centre dedicated to Pope John Paul II during his visit to Sarajevo, June 6, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Pope Francis speaks with young people in a youth centre dedicated to Pope John Paul II during his visit to Sarajevo, June 6, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

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After his emotional visit to Sarajevo, Francis also said he's close to a ruling on the validity of the visions of Mary at Medjugorje, a popular pilgrimage site.

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  • “…Srebrenica, where 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed in 1995 in the worst mass killing in Europe since the Nazis..”

    And these massacres were done by Catholics. It happens often.

    “Bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their king, and execute them in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    I remember the first reports out of Bosnia in the 1990s. And when President Clinton took action to protect the Muslim population from the Catholics it fell on deaf ears in many nations because the victims were not Christians.

    Wherever religion is strong, peace is impossible.

  • Larry

    Max, it was the Orthodox Christian Serbs who were the main aggressors (and most genocidal party) in the Balkan conflict, not the Catholic (Croats). It was the Orthodox Serbs who also were the aggressors in the Kosovo conflict.

    Croatia broke away from Yugoslavia and Serb dominated Yugoslavia sought to bring it back to heel. Then it degenerated into Catholic Croatia and Orthodox Serbia carving up Muslim Bosnia for greater territory.

    The Srebrenica massacre, was done by Orthodox Christian Serbs. The Croats were by then were aligned with the mostly Muslim Bosnians.

    ” including one by a nun who was kidnapped in 1993 by Arab foreign fighters who came to Bosnia to fight alongside the country’s Muslims.”

    Thousands of Catholic Croats and Muslim Bosnians were being dying from indiscriminate bombardment by artillery and airstrikes by Serbia, but a bunch of zealous foreigners kidnap one nun and it becomes noteworthy

  • Thanks for the reminder.

    As one who grew up in both Catholic and Orthodox families, the rituals now blend together in my mind as shades of the same tribalist nonsense and aggressive inclinations.

  • Steve

    Yes, it is true that people using the name Catholic killed Muslims and vice versa. Just as it is the same that a secular nation, The United States, killed thousands by dropping Atomic bombs on civilian targets in Japan…continues to sell weapons to nations who make war and has and continues to do very other evil things to the world and the environment all in the name of Secular-Capitalism. I am an American and I am a Catholic, ashamed of the evil that both my nation and Church have done (although never directly participating in any of it except perhaps though taxes and donations)…nevertheless I remain faithful to both hoping that in some way because of both of them I will have helped humanity become better before I die.

  • bqrq

    Dear Max,
    I converted to Orthodox Christianity as an adult and love the Orthodox Church. If you grew up in an Orthodox family then you know that when you said no to God, your soul went forth on the path of perdition and remains there today. As Orthodox, we all need to go to Confession frequently, in order to help our soul patiently suffer and endure the pain, weakness and turmoil of this earthly life. May God Bless Max.

  • JR

    This is all tribal hatred, having nothing to do with Catholicism or Islam as Faiths. Atheists are hardly in a position to judge or understand this.

  • bqrq,


    There’s only one problem. It isn’t real.

  • @JR,

    “Atheists are hardly in a position to judge…”

    90% of us Atheists were once Christian. We studied all this stuff as Christians – from every direction – and came to the realization that it simply didn’t add up.

    We are exactly the right people to judge these tribalist beliefs. Because that is exactly the discovery – religion is about tribes and following the leaders (gods) of those tribes.

  • bqrq

    Going black is perdition, but there’s more to it.

  • There is no evidence of any of your claims.
    Going black is what cows and horses do when they die – humans too.
    If not, prove otherwise.

    Our brains and all our beliefs will die at the same time. Because our beliefs reside in our brains.
    If an afterlife exists, it exists for everyone – not just believers.

  • dmj76

    Dear Max

    I once read that if a band of our chimpanzee cousins become too large, the band spontaneously splits into two groups and they start killing each other. Where does religion come in here? Insects also fight wars without being religious.

    Trotsky once said “you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” No, I am not a communist, just thought it was an interesting quote.

    best wishes

  • bob smith

    Pope should be more concerned with atheists in Russia – China – Cambodia – n.korea – cuba etc ….that killed millions upon millions of people of all religions in the 20 th century .

    atheism is the most murderous and totalitarian religious philosophy that has ever existed. Gulags and absolute state power and total control are the hall-marks of EVERY atheist society that has ever existed.

  • @dmj76,

    I don’t know if your chimpanzee story is true or not.
    But if humanity is inclined to violence and war, it must do everything in its power to avoid further wars – nuclear weapons will annihilate everything on earth otherwise.

    The evidence is conclusive that religion has led to war repeatedly; not only specific religions, but the religious notion of utopia – the idea that there is a Messiah out there somewhere.

    Humanity must learn to abandon this lust for religious utopias – places of perfect compliance.

    Realizing that God is only man made does not solve all the problems. We still need to figure out how to function as decent societies with laws we can agree on and policies which are constructive and moral.

    But at least we would not have to waste time and energy on the questions about what the gods would like of us. We have enough to deal with!

  • @Bob Smith,

    “atheism is the most murderous and totalitarian…”

    That is nonsense.
    The USA is the only Atheistic Constitution under an Atheist Regime which has ever existed. Even today the US Constitution remains the only Atheistic form of government on earth:

    “Congress shall make no law establishing a religion…” – US Constitution

    That is Atheism: the complete lack of commitment to a deity.

    Your examples; Stalin, Hirohito, Mao, Pol Pot, etc are not examples of Atheist Regimes – They are Religious Messianic Theocracies of personality and Agrarianist Cults. They relied on supernatural beliefs and elevated certain men to Godhead status. That is not Atheism.

    The USA is Atheism: The complete lack of belief and commitment to a specific deity. For more than 200 years America has avoided Messianist nonsense thanks to our Constitution.

    May the USA remain an beautiful example of peaceful Atheism forever.

  • Susan

    brbq and Max,

    I don’t much think about the afterlife. I use religion to help me cope with this life. There is a Midrash that a righteous man was shown Heaven and Hell. In Hell, he finds a beautiful banquet hall, but the men are chained together and cannot feed themselves. He goes to Heaven and it is exactly the same place, but in Heaven people are feeding each other. It is the egoistic grabbing of what’s mine that creates Hell. It almost sounds Buddhist. Thus the famous line from Woodstock, “We must be in Heaven, we are all feeding each other.

    None of the Orthodox Christian churches have not gone through the equivalent of Vatican II in their attitude towards Jews.

  • JR

    Yeah, just the right group to judge. Please settle all these problems then.

  • JR

    The US is a Christian nation, based on Christian principles and ideology. Atheists only seek to tear it apart.

  • “I use religion to cope with this life”

    And you have every right to do so.
    But remember Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Hitler and the Nation of Islam are doing exactly the same thing as you. Coping with life by using faith.
    And they believe, as you do, that there is something very good and helpful in these ancient philosophies.

    My problem with religion is not that it works for you. But that so much of it works against all of us.

    Midrash or Islamic decree, doesn’t matter. It is all man made.
    But it pretends it is divine – and that is a lie.

    There are much better stories and better coping methods in the living culture; literature, music, theatre, books, art, museums, philosophy…

    Religions are just dead philosophies with dead gods – they are man man posers which disrupt the truly useful ideas.

  • @JR,

    “US is a Christian nation…”

    The USA was founded by people who hated the claims of all religions; they classified Jesus as an unimportant influence on their lawmaking.

    No other Constitution on earth has such a clearly Atheist phrase:

    “Congress shall make no law establishing a religion…”

    Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say, “ignore religion, ignore God”!

    The greatest gift the USA gave to humanity is the Atheistic concept of Separation of church and state through the establishment clause – and you so called “patriotic” Christians don’t understand the value of it at all.

    The other two greatest gifts the USA gave to humanity was Jazz and the popular song. Both would be impossible under your dictatorship of religion!

  • Larry

    Don’t give me that apologetic bullcrap! People were committing genocide in Bosnia solely on the basis of what religion their victims were. There is no excusing it. Nor can the alleged bad acts of others act as a justification or mitigation here.

    The atomic bombings were not a war crime. Not in a war punctuated by mass aerial bombardment by all sides of the conflict. Mass close-up slaughter of non-combatants has always been considered a war crime ever since the concept of war crimes existed. From Lidice to Srebrenica such actions demanded the full weight of the international community’s condemnation.

    “Secular capitalism” is as much of a nonsense phrase as “Judeo-Christian”. Just a label without meaning to use as an alleged epithet.

  • dmj76

    Dear Bob Smith

    Atheism is a philosophy like not collecting stamps is a hobby. Most philosophies make some kind of postive statement about what reality is like. Atheism is, or can be, simply not being interested in certain kinds of metaphysical statements. (I am not referring here to militant atheists.).

    With respect to the examples you give, vey few people these days believe in communism Utopian ideals are bad news.

    best wishes

  • Larry

    Atheists are the only ones being honest about this.

    Everyone else is trying to make cheap excuses, apologia or outright lying in order to distance their religious beliefs from the horrific carnage of the last overtly sectarian conflict in the developed world.

    All that tribal hatred got its inspiration from the religious leadership. The Orthodox Church of Serbia being one of the worst offenders in that category.

    Orthodox churches extolled Serbian nationalism and referenced the Croat Catholic war crimes of WWII (which included the last mass forced conversion to a Christian church in Europe).

    They referred to Bosnian Muslims as “Ottomans” recalling the invasions of centuries past. Eventually even the Muslims had to appeal to Islamicism for assistance

  • Larry

    Why? Communism is already in its grave.

    Russia is now an oligarchy with a state church. China is like Russia only without one official state religion. Religion exists there but under government heel. Like all dictatorships. Cambodia has Buddhism as its official religion. North Korea has a state religion of its own, Juche. Cuba is just a few months away from being officially Catholic again.

    So Bob, feel free to stuff it. Atheists aren’t a threat to anyone out there. The present danger is currently religious fundamentalism.

    “Gulags and absolute state power and total control are the hall-marks of EVERY atheist society that has ever existed.”

    Except the United States. The only developed country with a completely atheist constitution. No official religion whatsoever. Religious types love dictators. Always have.

  • Susan

    I would agree on the point that art, music, literature can help you cope. However, artists, musicians, composers and writers are not necessarily good people. They can be racist, antisemitic and sexist. They can be selfish and self-absorbed. We often see various kinds of artists as secular saints, but they are not.

    Literature does not have to be literally true to be beneficial to humanity. A great work of literature is true even if it is not literally true. Would you call War and Peace a lie?

    I disagree that that ISIS, Hamas or any other group is doing the same thing that I am doing. They think that there is only ONE right way and that way should be imposed on others against their will. I do not. I don’t think that religion can or should be imposed on anyone.

  • Susan


    Do I think that the Bible is literally the exact word of God? No I don’t. I don’t think that MIdrash or Talmud is either. I still take it seriously, but I don’t believe every word is literally true. ISIS and those other groups do. That is another difference.

  • Larry

    Show me anywhere in the Constitution where Jesus is mentioned.

    Christianity is not the official religion of the nation nor can ever be acknowledged as it under the 1st Amendment. The US is founded on non-religious ideals. Respect for all faiths and none. Not just your Christian belief.

    You can’t even come up with a definition of “Christian principles and ideology” which isn’t circular, self-defined, vague, or accurately reflecting the entirety of the Christian belief.

    JR, people who make such ridiculous claims as yours do so in order to pretend Christians are entitled to special privileges in our nation to the detriment of everyone else. Nothing about that has anything to do with the principles and laws of our nation.

  • If you embrace ‘faith’ you have nothing to argue against when ISIS or Al Queda take actions in the names of their ‘faiths’.

    You keep missing this point.
    Faith is the danger. Faith is just being gullible to traditional claims – it is what keeps all religions going.

    The people who join ISIS believe they are doing good. Hamas and Hezbollah are also convinced they are working against evil. Al Queda doesn’t think it is doing any evil!
    The only way these people can conclude this is through Faith – “Slay the infidel” (Surah 9:2)

    Have you ever killed a wasp so it would not harm your children? That is what religion does…it turns human beings into evil wasps which need to be killed.
    If you embrace religion you have given up the argument completely.

    You cannot say ISIS is wrong if you have accepted their argument. Their only argument is faith – the same thing you are selling.

  • Susan

    If you accept that faith is not unquestioning then no it is not the same thing. We can argue over who is missing the point, but I have met too many people whose faith has made them better people. Although, we may have a different definition of faith, because any faith can and should be questioned.

  • Susan,

    “we may have a different definition of faith…it should be questioned”

    “Faith” is accepting as truth a claim for which there is no evidence and even abundant evidence to the contrary of the claim.

    I have seen no argument which elevates faith above gullibility – it is simply the act of surrendering to traditional authority.

    When ‘faith’ is applied in colloquial terms: “having faith in oneself”, “faith in one’s wife” or “faith in my car’s brakes”, etc… these are faith situations at all. They are situations where past performance (evidence) has earned confidence.

    There is absolutely no evidence for Allah or Yahweh. And abundant evidence that such notions are ridiculous. To accept claims about these gods without evidence is to simply be loyal to the gullibility of one’s parents who taught it.
    It is a quiet assault on human intellect.

  • EDIT:
    When ‘faith’ is applied in colloquial terms: “having faith in oneself”, “faith in one’s wife” or “faith in my car’s brakes”, etc… these are NOT faith situations at all. They are situations where past performance (evidence) has earned confidence.