1998 Notre Dame Award for international humanitarian service will go to Cardinal Puljic

by Michael O. Garvey

The 1998 Notre Dame Award for international humanitarian service will be given to Cardinal Vinko Puljic, the Catholic archbishop of Sarajevo.p. Cardinal Puljic will receive the award and address the Notre Dame community in a ceremony to be announced at a later date.p. “Cardinal Puljic’s tireless quest for peace without victory is a timely reminder that fear, hatred and violence cannot be ingredients in a truly Christian witness,” said Notre Dame’s president, Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., in announcing the award. “It is a heartening sign to all nations in a tragic and bloody season .”p. The archdiocese over which Cardinal Puljic has presided since 1991 is the largest in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where Catholics made up 18 percent of the population before the Balkan war. One measure of the war’s ongoing devastation is the decimation of the archdiocese, which included 520,000 Catholics when Cardinal Puljic was named archbishop. Only some 125,000 remain. Similarly, of the 830,000 Catholics who lived throughout Bosnia before the “ethnic cleansings,” only some 400,000 remain.p. Born in 1945 to a large farming family in Banja Luka, Cardinal Puljic was ordained a priest in 1970. Since then he has served as a parish priest in his hometown, as a spiritual director in a seminary in Zadar and as vice rector of the seminary in Sarajevo. As Sarajevo’s archbishop, he has become widely known as a vigorous ecumenist who collaborates in peacemaking with a small group of fellow religious leaders in the Muslim, Serbian Orthodox, and Jewish communities. Last summer, the group, which includes leaders of the four principal religious communities of the country, formally established itself as the Inter-Religious Council in Bosnia Herzegovina to develop “practical programs of cooperation” in peacemaking and redevelopment.p. Internationally recognized as a firm opponent of the ethnic and religious partitioning of his native country, Cardinal Puljic has pleaded with the U.S. government and the United Nations for “decisive and credible action” to prevent further fragmentation and violence. Last year, speaking on behalf of the Catholic bishops of Bosnia-Herzegovina, he warned that the warring factions’ selective interpretations of the Dayton Accords “now serve as the basis for further partition along ethnic and religious lines,” and that “unless more is done soon, the partition of Bosnia will be cemented, and the extremists who brought us war will become further entrenched.”p. The Notre Dame Award was established in 1992, in celebration of the University’s Sesquicentennial, to honor persons “within and without the Catholic Church, citizens of every nation, whose religious faith has quickened learning, whose learning has engendered deeds, and whose deeds give witness to God’s kingdom among us.” The award has been given previously to Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter; Mother Theresa of Calcutta; Jean Vanier, founder of the international l’Arche communities for the mentally handicapped; Helen Suzman, South African anti-apartheid politician; John Hume, peace advocate and leader of Northern Ireland’s Social Democratic and Labour Party, and Brother Roger, the founder and prior of the ecumenical Taize Community in France.

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