International News

Papal Itinerary in Sarajevo

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – After a quick flight over Italy and the Adriatic Sea, Pope Francis will make an 11-hour visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina June 6, taking time to meet with the nation’s leaders and bishops, and also spending time with young people.

According to the schedule released by the Vatican, Pope Francis also will hold an afternoon meeting with priests, religious and seminarians as well as take part in an ecumenical and interreligious gathering at a Franciscan student center.

The Balkan nation, which is struggling to rebuild itself after a devastating war marked by ethnic cleansing, is still largely divided along ethnic lines. Bosnians make up 48 percent of the country’s nearly four million people, while Serbs make up 37 percent and Croats 14 percent. About 40 percent of all citizens are Muslim, 31 percent Orthodox and 15 percent Catholic.

The pope had said in February that he hoped the one-day trip to Sarajevo, the capital, would help “be an encouragement for the Catholic faithful, give rise to the development of the good and contribute to strengthening fraternity, peace, interreligious dialogue and friendship.”

It will be Pope Francis’ eighth trip abroad and the 11th country he has visited outside of Italy since his election in 2013.