'A YUGOSLAVIAN ceasefire is necessary before the country's escalating civil war becomes a Balkans bloodbath, representatives of Europe's Catholic bishops' conferences warned this week.
The bishops were meeting on the eve of the latest ceasefire, and as federal airforce planes bombed the 700-year-old Catholic Cathedral of St James of Sibenik, considered one of the most notable buildings of the Gothic and Renaissance period in Europe. Also attacked by federal forces was the Catholic cathedral in Diakovo in Slavonia. According to a Zagreb Catholic newspaper, 60 churches in Croatia have been destroyed in attacks by Serbs.
At a crisis meeting held in northern Italy to examine ways to help bring the fighting in the breakaway Yugoslav republic of Croatia to an end, the Council of European Bishops' Conferences deplored the violence which has so far claimed as many as 500 lives.
And they called for relentless efforts by people on both sides of the conflict to ensure that the lives of innocent civilians were not endangered as Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs struggled for supremacy in eastern Croatia.
The bishops' message came as European Community member states faced growing pressure to send an armed peacekeeping force to Yugoslavia to keep the warring parties apart.