Holy See to Assist Bosnian Armed Forces

Agreement Is Significant Step in Diplomatic Relations

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SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina, APRIL 13, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See signed an agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina last week allowing for religious assistance to Catholic members of that country’s Armed Forces.

The agreement was signed Thursday in Sarajevo by Archbishop Alessandro D’Errico, apostolic nuncio to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that country’s Minister of Defense, Selmo Cikotic.
The Vatican press office reported Monday that this step «constitutes a new significant stage in relations between the Holy See and Bosnia and Herzegovina.»
The communiqué explained that this is the first important implementation of the basic agreement between the two parties, which was signed on April 19, 2006 in Sarajevo.
Among other things, the document defines «the juridical framework of the presence and activities of the Catholic Church in the country.»
The Holy See communiqué explained that article 15 of the agreement «recognizes and guarantees the right of the Catholic Church to give religious assistance to Catholic faithful members of the Armed Forces.»
It also stipulates that «the religious activity of the Armed Forces» will be regulated «by a forthcoming agreement between the ecclesiastical authorities and Bosnia and Herzegovina.»
The new document will come into force «at the time of the exchange of the instruments of ratification,» the communiqué noted.
The solemn act of signing of the agreement took place in the presence of numerous top representatives of the Catholic Church and of the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Also attending the ceremony were a Muslim representative, another of the Jewish community, of EUMS (European Union Military Staff) and of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).

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