Pope Francis called for an end to war during an official visit to Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Saturday. The visit, which involved conducting mass in front of 65,000 people, comes 17 years after the late John Paul II visited the city and 20 years since the end of the Balkan war.
"War means children, women and the elderly in refugee camps. It means forced displacement, destroyed houses, streets and factories. Above all countless shattered lives," Pope Francis said in his homily at Sarajevo's Kosevo stadium.
"You know this well having experienced it here," he added in reference to the 1992-95 conflict, which saw 100,000 killed and 2 million displaced.
The pope met with leaders from the Islamic, Serb Christian Orthodox and Catholic faiths during his visit to the country, which is still deeply divided by religion and ethnicity. The three-year war was fought by Christian Serbs and Muslim Bosniaks, which included a separate war between Bosnia and Croatia. Catholics make up about 15 percent of the population.
The pope also met the country’s three presidents -- Bosniak, Serb and Croat who rotate every eight months as chairmen of the three-man group, a stipulation of the peace deal that was signed in Paris on Dec. 14, 1995, to end the conflict.
Calling Sarajevo the “Jerusalem of the West,” the pope told people during a speech to “reject division” and “continue working for peace.”
"It is a city of very different ethnic and religious cultures. It is even a city that has suffered much during its history. Now it is on a beautiful path of peace. I am making this trip to talk about this, as a sign of peace and a prayer for peace,” he said.
Local Bosnian media reported Thursday a jihadist claiming to be a member of the Islamic State called for action in Bosnia in a video.