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Cardinal Bertone alarmed over Church’s future in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Catholic World News - March 01, 2012

Writing on behalf of Pope Benedict to the bishops of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has expressed alarm over the future of the Church in the Balkan nation.

“Unfortunately, as you well know, the data are alarming: from about 800,000 Catholics in 1991, they have dwindled to about 440,000 today,” Cardinal Bertone wrote in a recent letter, excerpts of which have now been published in L’Osservatore Romano. “In many parishes only the elderly are left; according to the annual statistics of the diocesan curias, the number of Catholics never stops falling.”

“The gravity of the situation demands that you, as pastors and primarily responsible for the People of God in this region, of common accord intensify your commitment to the future of the Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Cardinal Bertone continued. “Discouragement and resignation must be combated and personal involvement in the matter of survival must be encouraged.”

The bishops of Bosnia and Herzegovina met on January 30 and 31 to reflect on the letter. The apostolic nuncio, who was present at the meeting, emphasized the need for the bishops to develop “common pastoral guidelines” in response to the challenge.

Under 10% of the nation’s 4.6 million people are now Catholic; 40% are Muslim, and nearly a third are Eastern Orthodox.

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