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The Holy See

Capital Vatican City

Time Zone CET (GMT+1)

Country Code 39

ccTLD .va

Currency Euro

Land Area 0.44 sq km

Population 836

Language Latin, Italian

Major Religion Roman Catholicism

Key Data

Notable Public Figures

Francis I - Jorge Mario Bergoglio,
Pope

Pietro Parolin,
Cardinal Secretary of State

Giovanni Angelo Becciu,
Substitute for General Affairs

Paul Richard Gallagher,
Secretary for the Relations with States

Antoine Camiller,
Undersecretary for the Relations with States

Luciano Suriani,
Delegate for Pontificial Representations

Peter Brian Wells,
Assessor for General Affairs

José Avelino Bettencourt,
Head of Protocol

Domenico Giani,
Chief of Vatican Gendarmerie

Bosnia-Hercegovina and The Vatican’s Challenges in the Balkans

Bosnia-Hercegovina plays a pivotal role in the Vatican’s overall strategy when it comes to the Balkans.The Vatican challenges in the Balkans Bolstering the Catholic Church in 2015 and beyond This fact was reaffirmed in January 2015, when it was announce that Pope Francis would visit the country in June of 2015.

Summary

The ethnically-divided country’s Catholic Croat population has fallen by half since the wars of the 1990s, but the Holy See is very sensitive to its needs and holds its leaders, particularly Cardinal Vinko Puljic, in high esteem.

Because the Catholic Croats do not enjoy the entity-level autonomy of Bosnia’s Orthodox Serbs, they are much more vulnerable to the whims of Sarajevo and Church leaders in recent years have complained of persecution and threats from local Islamists.

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In addition to this, a decline in mass attendance, poverty and youth unemployment and a general population loss have been singled out by Catholic leaders here. The Vatican is expected to develop plans to tackle these issues, and at the same time has the important issue of the Marian shrine of Medjugorje to contend with.

The saga of Medjugorje is examined in detail in the book. While the Vatican has concluded its investigation into the site’s allegedly miraculous nature (as of January 2014) the promised result of the investigation has not been divulged. We expect that Pope Francis will give a moderate evaluation, stating that the decision to believe in Marian miracles here is one of personal choice. This is because Medjugorje since the 1980s has pumped untold millions into the local economy (and beyond); indeed, the site remains an important pilgrimage point and the Vatican is not going to do anything that would disturb this state of affairs.

All in all, it is clear that Bosnia is considered as being of vital importance to the Church regionally. This has been indicated by the fact that Pope Francis will follow in the footsteps of his predecessors by visiting, in June 2015, making it the third Balkan country within a nine-month period to be visited by the charismatic new pope.

This is particularly importance because the Church must compete for attention and influence with Turkey, which is sure to be very active in 2015- both the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre and the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, which Pope Francis has recognized despite Turkish anger. As such, Bosnia is a key country for not only Balkan but larger Vatican policy.

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