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Balkan Bishops working on peace strategy
    As the world talks of the possibility of a major new conflict in Europe's Balkan region, the local Catholic bishops have met in Vienna to analyse the situation and offer a joint Christian response.
    "Our intention in organising this meeting was to make a reading of the last years of history of these Balkan regions to see how the local churches, both episcopal conferences, as well as Catholic organisations active in the territory, can contribute to promote justice and reconciliation," said Archbishop Noel Treanor, secretary of the Commission of the Episcopal Conferences of the European Union (COMECE).
    "Without these conditions, as many Pontiffs have already stated, there are no real conditions for a lasting peace," he added.
    Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna said that when the strong points of power give way and the social fabric is blurred, the Church is among the very few institutions that can help, even if it cannot impede war.
    Among the participants were the presidents of the bishops' conferences of the Balkans, that is, of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Albania and the Yugoslav Federation. This is the first meeting of its kind, centered on the role of Catholics in the troubled areas.
    In the final statement, the churches are requested greater commitment to solidarity and peace. They emphasised collaboration with other faiths (including the Orthodox and Muslims(, and greater commitment to the democratic formation of the citizens of the long-socialist countries.