This morning in the Vatican, Pope Francis received in audience Dragan Čović, Croatian member of the Collegial Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina. 

According to a communique issued by the Holy See, the discussions were “cordial.” Following one of the worst flood disasters to date for Bosnia-Herzegovina, they discussed the Catholic Church's role in the recovery.

Particular reference, the Vatican statement said, was given "to the contribution of Catholics to the edification of society" and "especially their commitment in the field of reconstruction following the devastation caused by floods last spring.”

Last May, a low-pressure cyclone caused floods and landslides in Southeastern and Central Europe. Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia suffered the greatest damage. The flooding claimed more than 62 lives and caused hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, especially in Bosnia-Herzegovina's town of Doboj.

Various Catholic charities helped affected towns recover and rebuild. For example, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) gave more than $67,700 in emergency aid to the Archdiocese of Sarajevo.

Along with this topic, during the meeting, “Satisfaction was expressed regarding the good bilateral relations,” the Vatican statement said. “Several issues were discussed in relation to the application of the 2006 Basic Agreement, which governs the relationships and collaboration between the Church and the State for the common good.”

Moreover, the Pope and politician considered various themes relating to regional and international politics.

The official subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.

Since the 1995 Dayton Agreements, which ended the civil war, the Republic of former Yugoslavia is divided into two entities. Each has its own parliament: the Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska.

The presidency is made up of three members: one Bosniak, one Croat, and one Serb. The members are elected by popular vote for a four-year term. The member who has the most votes becomes the chairman unless he or she was the incumbent chairman at the time of the election. Every eight months, the chairmanship rotates.

This November Bishop Franjo Komarica of Banja Luka told ACN how the country is in poor shape. Unemployment rests at more than 50% and nearly 75% of young adults cannot find work. Dissatisfaction among the population, which comprises three ethnic groups-– Croats, Bosnians and Serbs – has tremendously grown.

In the nation, corruption, nepotism, and cronyism are widespread. However, The Catholic Church in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the bishop noted, is working to combat these difficulties and help the nation's people.


On ZENIT's Web page:

Bishop Komarica's remarks:

On the NET:

More on ACN's contributions: