by Timothy Elphick THE Holy See has pedged Catholic aid to help Moslem families fleeing the bloody civil war in the former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia-Herzogovina.
"The Catholic Church is at your side through its network of organisations," Pope John Paul told a Moslem delegation from the republic last Sunday. The Pope said he had asked the Vatican's emergency relief agency Cor Unum to "intensify its work of coordinating humanitarian aid".
The Pope's remarks came as Serbia defied United Nations attempts to end the fighting in Bosnia-Herzogovina. The Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. whose government has been blamed for the fighting in the republic between Serbian-led former federal troops and Croatian and Moslem militias, said his country would accept whatever sanctions the UN was moved to impose. "This is a price we have to pay for helping Serbs outside Serbia," he said.
"We see across our television screens an ever-increasing mass of babies, women and old people with horrified faces in search of some protection against their misfortune. We hear their crying and their shouts pleading for help. These tragic events, this destruction and this suffering must not be the last word," the Pope said.
More than 300,000 refugees have left their homes in BosniaHerzogovina since the fighting in the former Yugoslavia's most ethnically-mixed republic began.
After the meeting in the Vatican between Pope John Paul and leaders of the Moslem communities of BosniaHerzogovina and neighbouring republics, the Pope said he hoped to be able to stimulate "still more the generosity of our Christian community throughout the world" towards the refugees.
• The conflict in BosniaHerzogovina is not war but "a unilaterally inflicted grab for land and genocide against everything that is not Serbian," a Croatian priest, Franciscan Fr Philip Pavich, who ministered at the Marian mountain shrine of Medjugorje in the republic for five years, has said.