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Archbishop Puljić Comments on Meetings with the Prime Minister and Speaker of the Croatian Parliament


In an interview for Croatian Catholic Radio (HKR), the President of the Croatian Conference of Bishops commented on meetings of the Permanent Council of the CCB with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia and with the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament.

Zadar, (IKA) – On January 9, at separate meetings the Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament Božo Petrov received members of the Permanent Council of the Croatian Conference of Bishops: the President of the CCB, Archbishop Želimir Puljić of Zadar; the Vice President of the CCB, Archbishop Cardinal Josip Bozanić of Zagreb; Archbishop Đuro Hranić of Đakovo-Osijek, Archbishop Dražen Kutleša of Poreč and Pula; and the General Secretary of the CCB, Msgr. Enco Rodinis.
The President of the CCB, Archbishop Puljić, commented on these meetings during an interview for Croatian Catholic Radio on Tuesday, January 10, noting that these were traditional visits with a festive atmosphere at the beginning of the new calendar year but also opportunities for discussion.
Commenting on the meeting with Prime Minister Plenković and his associates, Archbishop Puljić said: “We spoke about current topics. Prime Minister Plenković has recently stated that the Government has decided to face the past, which pleases us very much, because it seems that all our problems, all the tensions that exist in the nation, stem from a lack of open, clear, documented dealing with the past. It seems that people are fed up with ideological wiles. The Prime Minister said that he would form a commission that would attempt to bring an end to such confrontations. From our side, we said that we welcome this and want to look to the future with fair accounting and the clear truth. It is only possible to reach the truth through openness, research and documentation.”
One of the topics was education, about which the President of the CCB said: “We have always welcomed educational reform from the beginning and welcome the current efforts by the Government. We have only said that reform should not be short-lived. It should always be for the long-term. It seems to us that it is necessary to free it from ideological connotations, ideological orientations. In this context, we mentioned that what the Academy published in its brochure, that there are some shortcomings in the present reform, seems highly indicative to us. We consider it necessary to note this, particularly with regard to the Croatian language, history and culture. Indeed, concerning certain subjects, such as physics, mathematics, some scientists and academics wondered how it was possible that we want reform without making it more rigorous and comprehensive. In this context, we have supported such reform and efforts.”
In response to a journalist’s question about whether the Church has a constructive interlocutor in the Prime Minister, whether they could work together for the good of the nation, Msgr. Puljić said: “We mentioned that. On this occasion, I gave the Prime Minister the book Agreements with the Holy See (Ugovori sa Svetom Stolicom) because it is being said in the newspapers that such agreements were not necessary, that the Church is overly present in society, that there is the risk of some clericalization. I took the opportunity to say that despite the highly favorable climate for the relationship between the Church and the society at the time when these agreements were reached, politicians and engaged public officials, both in the Parliament and in the Government, deemed it necessary to place these relations into a framework of protocols in which freedom would be guaranteed to the Church. However, the Church will not engage in politics, so that the Church feels free in a free state. When I look back twenty-five years, I must say that the politicians of that time were farsighted, particularly in the context of what St. John Paul II said to members of the State and Church Commission when the agreements were ratified. He said that it was necessary to frame these relations with a protocol, an agreement in which it is evident that the Church, on the one side, and the society, on the other, have different points of view but need cooperation. With these agreements, the Church has been given freedom and can act freely in a free country. However, they are not two separate entities but must cooperate. That is what St. John Paul II particularly emphasized. In this context, I think that the Prime Minister of Croatia and his associates understand the importance of such dialogue, cooperation and respect for autonomy.”
In a meeting with Božo Petrov, Speaker of the Croatian Parliament, it was noted that the legislative activity of the Croatian Parliament must reflect the fundamental values of the Croatian society.