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Vatican reveals Pope’s itinerary for Sarajevo visit

Clergymen stand outside a church during an unveiling ceremony of a statue of St John Paul II in Sarajevo (CNS)

After a quick flight over Italy and the Adriatic Sea, Pope Francis will make an 11-hour visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina on June 6, taking time to meet with the nation’s leaders and bishops, and also spending time with young people.

According to the schedule released by the Vatican today, Pope Francis will hold an afternoon meeting with priests, religious and seminarians as well as take part in an ecumenical and inter-religious gathering at a Franciscan student centre.

The Balkan nation, which is struggling to rebuild itself after a devastating war marked by ethnic cleansing, is still largely divided along ethnic lines. Bosnians make up 48 percent of the country’s nearly 4 million people, while Serbs make up 37 percent and Croats 14 percent. About 40 percent of all citizens are Muslim, 31 percent Orthodox and 15 percent Catholic.

The Pope had said in February that he hoped the one-day trip to Sarajevo, the capital, would help “be an encouragement for the Catholic faithful, give rise to the development of the good and contribute to strengthening fraternity, peace, interreligious dialogue and friendship.”

It will be Pope Francis’ eighth trip abroad and the 11th country he has visited outside of Italy since his election in 2013.

Full itinerary of the Pope’s visit to Sarajevo (local times):…

Saturday, June 6 (Rome, Sarajevo, Rome)

— 7.30am Departure from Rome’s Fiumicino airport for Sarajevo.

— 9am Arrival at Sarajevo’s international airport.

— 9.30am Welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace; courtesy visit with the president.

— 10.10am Meeting with government authorities at the presidential palace. Speech by Pope.

— 11am Mass at Sarajevo’s Kosevo stadium. Homily by Pope.

— 1.15pm Lunch with the bishops of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the papal entourage in the apostolic nunciature.

— 4.20pm Meeting with priests, men and women religious and seminarians in the Sarajevo cathedral. Speech by pope.

— 5.30pm Meeting with leaders and members of other religions and other Christian denominations at the Franciscan International Student Center. Speech by Pope.

— 6.30pm Meeting with young people at the diocesan John Paul II Youth Center. Speech by Pope.

— 7.45pm Farewell ceremony at the Sarajevo international airport.

— 8pm Departure from Sarajevo to Rome.

— 9.20pm Arrival at Rome’s Ciampino airport.