International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Pope Francis to Visit Bosnia and Herzegovina and Help in the Reconciliatory Process

ICTJ-Balkans-op-ed-Pope-thumb-Feb-2015

Pope Francis has recently announced that he will visit the Capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, in June of this year. His aim of the trip is to, “give rise to the development of good and contribute to the consolidation of brotherhood and peace, inter-religious dialogue and friendship.” A recent op-ed written by the ICTJ’s communications director, Refik Hodzic, a Bosnian himself, discusses the current reconciliatory issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The country is still suffering from the legacy of the 1992-95 conflict; a conflict which resulted in more than 100,000 deaths of Bosnian Croats and Serbs. The issues in the country are not surrounding a lack of impunity—hundreds of war criminals been caught, tried, and sentenced. The issues in this case go deeper. Even twenty years later, the wounds have not healed. Hodzic wrote himself, “We are paralyzed, caught in limbo between war and genuine peace because we have not translated the truth and justice emerging from courtrooms into acknowledgement, empathy and reconciliation.” This is a strong example of the split between retributive and restorative justice—the criminals have been formally punished but there is still a lack of restoration of forgiveness and reconciliation in the hearts and minds of the individuals who lived through the conflict and who are attempting to live their lives now. Beyond the courtroom, reconciliatory justice still needs to be made, especially with the recent release of several war criminals who have finished their sentence. Pope Francis enters the scene and offers an interesting religious element to the healing process, and it will be interesting to see if his presence will have an impact in the reconciliation process.

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