Cardinal Bozanić: Those who go against Stepinac go against God
In these twenty-five years of independent and free Croatia, which we are celebrating today, rivers of excitement, victories, self-giving, faithfulness and togetherness, living and dying for others, true devotion and making an effort to do well are summed up. But, in these twenty-five years we also find bitter moments of selfishness and strifes, betrayals and divisions, disrespect of fellow man and one own country, too much superficiality and short sightedness, roughness and insensitivity, blackmail, neglect and provocation of God with infidelity – said the Archbishop of Zagreb Josip Bozanić while celebrating Mass for the Homeland on Statehood Day in the St. Mark’s Church in Gornji grad [Upper town].
At the beginning of the Eucharist, parson of St. Mark’s Church Msgr. Franjo Prstec greeted everybody present and invited them to pray to the Croatian heaven full of Croatian great men, martyrs and defenders who laid their lives for freedom, faith and language, to intercede for us before God.
In his homily the Cardinal reminded us of the circumstances exactly twenty-five years ago, when on this exact day in 1991 the Croatian parliament adopted the Declaration on the Proclamation of the Sovereign and Independent Republic of Croatia. That event, the Cardinal said, was not carried along on a tide of euphoria, as the ominous boom of war was echoing ever so loudly, so the Croatian bishops strongly condemned military campaigns, pointing out that challenging constitutional decisions of the Croatian Parliament and the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia is contrary to morality, respect of human rights, and right to national self-determination.
He pointed out that the historical events of the1990s mark the beginning of contemporary history for the Croatian people, and that they enlighten the fundamental questions of our national and state identity, but also that those events mark the beginning of contemporary democratic processes of the Croatian society, which craves for new togetherness and dialogue.
‘Our present is burdened and our vision of the future is blurred by constant referring to the topics of our past: World War II and post-war period, fascism and what is presented as antifascism. Everything related to pre-war, war, and post-war periods and great evils: fascism, Nazism and communism, should be the subject of study and scientific research’, the Cardinal said, adding that politics should not deal with these issues, but that its task is only to establish national scientific non-party institutions for research and study of that period and support them.
‘A fear of factual scientific research of that period is still present in Croatia, the Cardinal continued. And it should be openly said that those who do not allow facts, documents and scientific truth speak of those events, provoke old divisions in the Croatian society (and are prisoners of blindness which does not open Croatia towards the future. Are those who do not want the truth to come out so powerful?, the Cardinal asked.
Speaking of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, who is still considered as a threat by some, Cardinal Bozanić said that Stepinac bothers some as he unites Croatia, as the people and entire history meet at his grave, and as he is an essential part of the Croatian identity. His persecutors knew: if you get rid of Stepinac, there is no Croatia as we know it. If you tarnish Stepinac, you tarnish Croatia’s image, too. If you taint Stepinac, the entire nation carries the stigma. But, from here we, as the Church, tell you: God has already celebrated Stepinac’s sainthood and those who go against him, go against God. And that is a battle that cannot be won, the Cardinal observed.
At the end of his homily, he invited us to continue building our Homeland, not to one’s personal taste, but to the common good of all its inhabitants. Our Homeland will be the way we are - the Cardinal concluded.
Alongside the Cardinal, Military Ordinary of the Republic of Croatia Msgr. Jure Bogdan, the eparch of the Greek Catholic eparchy of Križevci Msgr. Nikola Kekić, secretary general of the CBC Msgr. Enco Rodinis, parson of the St. Mark’s church Msgr. Franjo Prstec and several priests of the Archdiocese of Zagreb celebrated the Mass.
The President of the Republic of Croatia Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament, academician Željko Reiner, Croatia’s Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković representatives of the executive and judicial authorities, as well as members of the Croatian army and police, Croatian defenders and representatives of scientific, educational and cultural institutions were present at the Holy Mass.
Press Office of the Archdiocese of Zagreb