From Catholic News Service
Bishops favor 'good-faith' solution in Kosovo
By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A group of Catholic and Orthodox bishops asked
Serbian and Kosovar leaders to negotiate in "good faith" over the
political future of Kosovo, a breakaway Serbian province currently under
The bishops also called for the safe return of 200,000 Serbs and
other minorities who left after major fighting broke out in Kosovo in
the early 1990s.
"Only through a real dialogue of mutual respect and good-faith
negotiations can justice become a reality in Kosovo," said a statement
issued by the Joint Commission of Orthodox and Catholic Bishops meeting
in Washington June 21-23.
The commission is composed of U.S. Catholic bishops and Orthodox
bishops from Canada and the United States and deals with ways in which
the two churches can cooperate on practical issues. The U.S. bishops'
Department of Communications issued a June 28 news release about the
Political leaders of the majority ethnic Albanian population of
Kosovo favor independence while Serbian leaders want it to remain part
of Serbia. Complicating the issue is that most Albanians are Muslim
while Serbs are Orthodox.
The United Nations has been in charge of Kosovo since 1999 after NATO
launched air attacks against Serbian forces accused of "ethnic
cleansing" in efforts to suppress rebel fighters wanting independence.
The NATO attacks drove out Serbian forces but did not ease the ethnic
and religious tensions.
In February, U.N.-brokered talks got under way between Serbian and
Kosovar leaders to determine the region's future political status.
The joint committee of bishops supported the call of the Holy Synod
of the Serbian Orthodox Church that the political rights of Serbs and
other minorities be guaranteed in any accord.
The committee said it was also concerned about the destruction of
churches, monasteries, cemeteries and other religious sites in Kosovo.
It asked that these sites be restored and called for the protection of
all religious sites in Kosovo.
The committee asked the six-nation leadership group -- consisting of
the United States and five European countries -- to foster negotiations.
This was the 22nd meeting of the joint commission, chaired by
Orthodox Bishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada and Archbishop Oscar H.
Lipscomb of Mobile, Ala. The next meeting was scheduled for Oct. 3-5,
2007, at the Orthodox Christian Mission Center in St. Augustine, Fla.
At a separate ecumenical dialogue earlier in June, Catholic and
Orthodox theologians continued their series of discussions on the
Catholic and Orthodox understandings of primacy and how bishops exercise
authority in the church.
The dialogue was conducted by the North American Orthodox-Catholic
Theological Consultation June 5-7 in Brookline, Mass.
The consultation is sponsored by the Standing Conference of the
Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas, the U.S. bishops' Committee
on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and the Canadian Conference of
The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 26-28 in Washington.
Copyright (c) 2003 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The CNS news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed, including but not limited to such means as framing or any other digital copying or distribution method, in whole or in part without the prior written authority of Catholic News Service.
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