Pope urges forgiveness for catholics
Pope John Paul II has called for religious reconciliation, and asked forgiveness for the "suffering and bloodshed" inflicted by Roman Catholics and others in the divided republic of Bosnia Hercegovina, the BBC has reported.
During Mass in the mainly Serbian Orthodox town of Banja Luka, the Pope spoke to 45,000 pilgrims at an open-air ceremony, to beatify a Bosnian man active in the Catholic Church during the 1920s.
The BBC's Nick Hawton in Banja Luka says the Vatican hopes the one-day visit will help promote reconciliation in an area where ethnic tensions are never far from the surface.
There had been concerns about possible protests, but no violent incidents were reported during the 10-hour visit by the Pope.
Thousands of Catholics were forced from the town during the Bosnian war a decade ago and few have returned.
The 83-year-old Pope urged Bosnia's rival Muslims, Roman Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs to search their hearts, put their differences behind them and forge a lasting multiethnic society.
On his arrival the pope said the international community had already done much to help Bosnia but should remain close to the country in order to create full security in justice and harmony.
He added that the people of Bosnia were still suffering but that a new beginning was possible if the different communities could find it in their hearts to change.
Members of the Bosnian state presidency and the chief international envoy to Bosnia, Paddy Ashdown, greeted the Pope on his second visit to the country.