(Vatican Radio) Christians are massively leaving post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina amid
mounting discrimination and Islamization, according to a new report.
believers leave the country since war raged 20 years ago," said Netherlands-based
advocacy and aid group Kerk in Nood, or 'Church in Need', in the report obtained by
There are just 440,000 Catholics left in the Balkan nation,
half the prewar figure, the group said.
The report came on the heels of talks
between the cardinal of Sarajevo, Vinko Puljic, and European Council President Herman
van Rompuy about difficulties faced by Bosnia's Christians.
reportedly complained that while dozens of mosques were build in the Bosnian capital
Sarajevo, no building permissions were given for Christian churches. "The cardinal
already waits 13 years on permission to build just a small church," Church in Need
Authorities so far refused to return hundreds of nationalized church
buildings, despite a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights to do so, according
to Christian officials.
Additionally tens of thousands of people, many of them
Catholic Croats, have been prevented from returning home following the war, Church
in Need said. These obstacles violate the Dayton peace accords that ended the 1992-1995
Bosnian War, which split the nation between a Serb republic and a Muslim-Croat federation.
is running out as there is a worrisome rise in radicalism," Puljic said, who added
that the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina were "persecuted for centuries" after European
powers "failed to support them in their struggle against the Ottoman Empire."
Puljic has made clear however that despite the "discrimination"
of the Catholic community, his denomination wants reconciliation with Muslims and
Orthodox Serb Christians. In published remarks, Van Rompuy made clear that giving
Bosnia-Herzegovina a "European perspective", the code word for eventual European Union
membership, "is the only way to overcome the crisis".
He said a condition for
closer ties with the EU is building a democratic nation that respects human rights
for all faiths and the rule of law.
Yet with ethnic tensions remaining high,
Western observers have warned that it will take years before the nation can join the
Nobel Peace Prize winning Union.
Last week's meeting with Van Rompuy and European
legislators, organized by Church in Need, also included talks on reconciliation projects
in the troubled Balkan nation where the wounds of recent history have not yet healed
completely. Over 100,000 people died and 2 million were displaced by the war that
followed the breakup of Yugoslavia.