Catholic, Orthodox leaders call for peace from Sarajevo

The Archbishop of Sarajevo, Cardinal Vinko Puljic (left) and the President of the Catholic community of Sant' Egidio Marco Impagliazzo give a press conference in Sarajevo on September 8. Serb Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej and Cardinal Puljic have called for peace from a country that was the scene of the worst atrocities committed in Europe since World War II

Serb Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej and Sarajevo Archbishop, Cardinal Vinko Puljic, on Sunday called for peace from a country that was the scene of the worst atrocities committed in Europe since World War II.

"We have to carry in ourselves the seeds of peace and plant them wherever we are," Irinej said during a liturgy in the main Serb Orthodox church of Bosnia's capital Sarajevo.

"The Church asked us to love every divine creature, since every human being is a divine icon. Respect of every human being is our task since he is the product of God's hands," said the patriarch who attended an annual gathering of the Catholic lay community of Sant'Egidio.

It was his first trip to the Bosnian capital since he became Serb Orthodox Church leader in October 2010.

Several hundred believers followed the liturgy in central Sarajevo, many of them in the church yard where the ceremony was broadcast on a giant screen.

"I'm delighted to be able to attend this prayer for peace, that a human being becomes even more human, that our society becomes more moral and I thank you for this unity," Cardinal Puljic said.

"In Bosnia, everyone prays according to one's own laws. This city and this country deserve such a privilege," he added.

On Saturday, Irinej and several Serb Orthodox Church officials attended a mass said by Puljic in Sarajevo cathedral.

Bosnia's 1992-1995 war, which saw the country's three main ethnic groups -- Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats and Muslims -- fight each other, claimed some 100,000 lives. Relations between the three main communities remain deeply damaged 17 years on.

During the three-day Sarajevo gathering some 200 religious leaders and officials will attend some 30 conferences notably on poverty, immigration, religion in Asia and the Arab world and dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

The Archbishop of Sarajevo, Cardinal Vinko Puljic (left) and the President of the Catholic community of Sant' Egidio Marco Impagliazzo give a press conference in Sarajevo on September 8. Serb Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej and Cardinal Puljic have called for peace from a country that was the scene of the worst atrocities committed in Europe since World War II.