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Pope to visit Sarajevo to boost 'brotherhood and peace'

AP , Sunday 1 Feb 2015
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Pope Francis announced on Sunday that he will visit Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, in hopes of boosting efforts toward brotherhood in the country that was ravaged by war two decades ago.

The 1992-95 Bosnian war took over 100,000 lives and the prosecution of war crimes suspects is ongoing.

Francis told tens of thousands of faithful who gathered in St. Peter's Square for his weekly blessing that, "God willing," he will go to Sarajevo on June 6.

He asked for prayers so his one-day visit would encourage Bosnia's small Catholic population as well as "give rise to the development of good and contribute to the consolidation of brotherhood and peace, of interreligious dialogue and friendship."

Thousands of people, including Muslim Bosnians and Catholic Croats, were killed or taken to concentration camps during Serb efforts in 1992 to drive out non-Serbs.

The first pontiff to visit Sarajevo was John Paul II, in 1997. Six years later, John Paul returned to Bosnia-Herzegovina, on a trip to Banja Luka. There, the future saint urged Bosnia's rival Muslims, Roman Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs to put their differences behind them and build a multiethnic society.

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