Op-Ed: Pope Francis is visiting Bosnia Saturday. You could say the Pope is on the religous campaign trail as he is visiting a predominantly Muslim country.
His brief one-day visit will include an address to the faithful at a stadium. Tens of thousands are expected to attend.
Pope Francis is a breath of fresh air to the papacy and his visit is aimed at reconciliation between the predominant religions of Bosnia.
"Sarajevo is "a city that has suffered so much in history. But now it is walking along the path to peace," Francis told reporters en route from Rome. "I'm making this trip as a sign of peace, and as a prayer for peace."
Security is high as the Pope visits Sarajevo the country's capital. On June 28, 1914, the heir to the Austrian Empire, Franz Ferdinand, was visiting Sarajevo, when he was assasinated. That murder directly led to the start of WW1.
No sane person wants a similar incident.
Muslims, Catholics and Orthodox Christians make up the main religions of the country. In the 1990s hatred was a keyword in Bosnia. A hate-filled and fuelled war dragged on resulting in the deaths of thousands of people. There were reports of ethnic cleansing and horrific killings.
War had followed the break-up of Yugoslavia. Regions spilt into separate countries and conflict followed. The Bosnian war of the 90's was brutal.
People from the same towns and villages fought against each other and "ethnic cleansing" resulted in many deaths. Following the war details of atrocities carried out, sometimes villager against villager, caused outrage.
In 2013 a huge mass grave was discovered at Tomasica. During the Bosnian war non-Serbs in the area were persecuted by troops. Following the war stony silence by locals hid the secret of the mass grave.
Before the mass grave at Tomasica was excavated Srebrenica had the largest Bosnian mass grave. It held 629 corpses. The Srebrenica massacre of 1995 was widely condemned and recorded. Around 8,000, mainly Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed in the massacre.
When civil war takes place hate lingers. Neighbours struggle to return to normality. It may be two decades on but Bosnia still struggles to maintain peace.
You may chose to deride Pope Francis for hoping that a one-day visit will further peace and help reconciliation but at least he is doing God's work. CNN