Pope was invited to Serbia, but only if SPC agreed - Nikolic

Former Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic says he in 2016 invited the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, to visit Serbia.

Source: Beta
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(EPA, file)
(EPA, file)

However, as Nikolic stated, the invitation was conditional on the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) agreeing to the visit.

Reacting to Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic recently speaking about the reasons for the cancellation of that visit, Nikolic said he had invited the pope "exclusively in the capacity of the president of Serbia" - and that, in the invitation, he indicated that it could go through only if a meeting between the pope and the Serbian patriarch was to be arranged as well - "because the pope is not only a state but a also religious leader."

"At one point, the Vatican administration ignored my explicit and clearly stated position that the pope's visit cannot happen before consent is obtained from the SPC. They informed me that their representatives would come to Serbia in January 2016 to prepare the visit which the pope planned for May of the same year. I reacted immediately and reminded them that the visit, and hence its preparations, cannot take place without the consent of the SPC," Nikolic told the daily Vecernje Novosti on Thursday.

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