Pope John Paul II and Romania's Orthodox Christian patriarch combined their moral authority on Saturday in a joint appeal for an end to the Kosovo conflict, condemning both forced expulsions and ``murderous bombings.''
    John Paul and Patriarch Teoctist appealed ``in the name of God'' to those ``who in one way or another are responsible for the current tragedy'' to return to the negotiating table. The statement was issued on the second day of John Paul's historic visit to Romania, a mainly Orthodox country that borders on Serbia. Before the visit, some in Romania questioned inviting a religious leader from the West while NATO was bombing fellow Orthodox in Yugoslavia.
    Since the NATO attacks began on 24 March, John Paul has issued a series of statements condemning the bombing as well the expulsions of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo.
    The expression of solidarity with ``those expelled from their homes, their land, separated from their loved ones, who know the cruel reality of the exodus,'' was considered one of the strongest statements by an Orthodox leader on Serbia's campaign against ethnic Albanians from Kosovo. The Russian patriarch, Alexy II, mentioned the plight of refugees during a visit to Belgrade last month.
    The two leaders mentioned expulsions in their statement before expressing solidarity with the ``victims of murderous bombings.'' However, they didn't specifically say that the ethnic Albanians were the victims of expulsions or name NATO.
    They called for a resumption of dialogue that would lead to a ``just and lasting'' peace and permit the return of refugees.

10:23am 10/5/99 / AP


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