A leading European cardinal has denounced the forced expulsion of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo. Observers view his stance as a sign that the Church is hardening its position against Yugoslavia's crackdown on the southern province.
    ``Our solidarity is directed particularly to those people who are the victims of forced expulsion and suppression for the mere fact that they are of a specific nationality,'' said Cardinal Miloslav Vlk of Prague in a statement released Monday by the Vatican.
    The Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano joined the attack Monday, saying ```ethnic cleansing' represents the biggest mortal danger for contemporary Europe.''
    While some authorities within the Church have condemned NATO's air campaign against Yugoslavia, Vlk expressed understanding for the alliance's stated goal of protecting the Kosovo Albanians.
    But he said a solution cannot be left to the armed forces alone and urged further efforts at a diplomatic solution.
    ``We feel united with all those, and especially the Muslims, who are suffering, and we invite everyone to pray for a rapid and just solution to the conflict,'' Vlk said, speaking in his position as president of the council of Europe's 34 bishops' conferences.

9:56am 27/4/99 / AP


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