In Rome to meet with Pope John Paul II, Kosovo leader Ibrahim Rugova has asked "for prayers for the priests who are in Kosovo, especially for Bishop Mark Sopi, who has decided to stay with those who remain there to encourage them."
    He told the Pope that the clergy have remained with their people despite that fact that "Kosovo is a desert and Pristina a ghost city."
    Last week Bishop Farhat Edmond, the nuncio in Slovenia and Macedonia, sent a mission to the Macedonian capital Skopje to find out about the Bishop who remained in Kosovo. Bishop Sopi's telephone line was dead for several weeks, as a result of the NATO bombings. On 3 May the Serbian authorities told the nuncio in Belgrade that Bishop Sopi was well and in his house.
    Rugova has asked for prayers for Bishop Sopi. They are close friends and share the non-violent approach which Rugova has advocated in his political campaigns. Rugova confirmed that the Bishop is in Prizren and that he has decided to stay in Kosovo to console all those who have been obliged to stay in their homes.
    Before the war, there were some 60,000 Catholics in Kosovo, all Albanians except for 1500 Croatians. They had 23 parishes and 37 priests.

11:07am 12/5/99 / Zenit


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