clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Pope decries bloodshed in Kosovo
Plea comes during 13-day pilgrimage in native Poland

ELK, Poland (AP) -- Bathed in golden light from a setting sun, Pope John Paul II issued a powerful plea for world peace and spoke of innocent blood being shed in Kosovo.

His prayer Monday evening in the northern city of Torun was the first time the pontiff has mentioned Kosovo since beginning a 13-day pilgrimage to his native Poland on Saturday.It came at the final event of a hectic day that saw him consecrate the nation's largest church and praise the scientific achievements of Nicholas Copernicus -- praise that came nearly four centuries after the Vatican condemned the astronomer's discovery that the Earth revolved around the sun.

Tuesday, John Paul celebrates a midday Mass in this rural community with church leaders and faithful from Lithuania, a former Soviet territory on the eastern border. A major theme of the pope's longest trip home is promoting spiritual development in formerly communist regions to the east.

"How much innocent blood has been shed in the 20th century, in Europe and throughout the world, because certain political and social systems forsook the principles of Christ that guarantee a just peace?" John Paul asked at a beatification ceremony for Wincenty Frelichowsky, a Catholic priest killed in a Nazi concentration camp.

"How much innocent blood is being shed under our very eyes? The tragic events in Kosovo have shown and are showing this in a painful way," he said.

"Let the cry for peace from this place reach everyone around the world," he added, to applause.

Earlier, John Paul praised Copernicus' for his revolutionary theory but said such an important discovery reminded the world of what he called the "ever-present tension between reason and faith."

In 1992, the pope formally proclaimed that the church erred when it condemned Galileo for supporting Copernicus' theory, which had been denounced in 1616 as dangerous for the faith. It remained on the Index of prohibited books until 1822.