Pope Francis to religious leaders: Bear witness that it is possible to live side by side
Pope Francis met with representatives from the four major religious communities in Bosnia-Herzegovina: Muslims, Orthodox Christians, Jews and Catholics.
Someone from every group spoke and described their experiences. The Pope told them that their meeting was a sign of a common desire for peace and brotherhood. He stressed the importance of dialogue between religions.
"Interreligious dialogue, before being a discussion of the main themes of faith, is a 'conversation about human existence.' This conversation shares the experiences of daily life in all its concreteness, with its joys and sufferings, its struggles and hopes; it takes on shared responsibilities; it plans a better future for all.â?
He added that dialogue helps construct a society based on tolerance and mutual respect.
"Interreligious dialogue cannot be limited merely to the few, to leaders of religious communities, but must also extend as far as possible to all believers, engaging the different sectors of civil society.â?
The Pope asked them to give testimony that coexistence between religions is possible. The four of them then prayed together.
"This land can become a message: attesting that it is possible to live together side by side, in diversity but rooted in a common humanity, building together a future of peace and brotherhood.â?
The ethnic breakdown of the country is as follows: Muslims comprise 40 percent; Orthodox Christians 31 percent; Jews 14 percent; and Catholics 15 percent.