The Slovenia Times

Koper to host religious dignitaries from 15 countries

The Koper cathedral. Photo: Aljoša Rehar/STA

The Slovenian Catholic Church will host a meeting of religious dignitaries from 15 countries in the region in Koper in June in a bid to foster interreligious dialogue and peace.

The event, titled the Forum for Dialogue and Peace in the Balkans, will be held on 17 and 18 June to discuss how to prevent the erosion of peace in the region by engaging in interreligious dialogue.

Peter Štumpf, the bishop of Murska Sobota, will chair the forum's committee.

Speaking to reporters in Ljubljana on 21 March, he said the role of dialogue was to promote religious freedom as well as sustainable care for natural resources and economic development.

The focus should be on "the well-being of people and communities" rather than "submission to endless growth and profit".

In this way dialogue can help promote peace and prevent disputes that could turn into an armed conflict like the one in Ukraine, he said.

The port city was chosen as the venue because it has served as "a window to the world" throughout history, said Jurij Bizjak, the bishop of Koper.

Even during the Cold War the state border between the former Yugoslavia and Italy was the most open border between Eastern and Western Europe, Bizjak said.

The Koper Diocese is located at the meeting point of three large families of European nations - Slavic, Romance and Germanic nations.

It was Apostolic Nuncio to Slovenia Jean-Marie Speich who encouraged the Slovenian Catholic Church to organise the forum, which enjoys the support of the Holy See and Pope Francis.

Asked whether the pope could attend it, Božo Rustja, the forum's PR officer, said his visit "could not be ruled out" as the pope might decide to attend just before the event.

Invitations to the event have been sent to representatives of religious communities in 15 countries, "from Istanbul to Mt Triglav", ethnologist Silvester Gaberšček said.

The ambassadors of these countries have also been invited, along with Slovenia's senior officials. A delegation of the Holy See will also take part.


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