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Comments by President of the Croatian Conference of Bishops on the Growing Unrest and Uncertainty in Europe


It is not easy to be someone who carries things out at this time. It is most important for people to be clear of mind, determined to preserve law and order, and to hold those who create disorder accountable. These events may be an intentional provocation to induce everyone to make war against each other. That would terrible, a catastrophe and apocalypse,

Zadar, (IKA) – Archbishop Želimir Puljić of Zadar, president of the Croatian Conference of Bishops, commented on the growing unrest and uncertainty in Europe after the terrorist crimes in Germany and Turkey during an interview with Croatian Catholic Radio on Wednesday, December 21. “It is not easy to be someone who carries things out at this time. It is most importantfor people to be clear of mind, determined to preserve law and order, and to hold those who create disorder accountable. These events may be an intentional provocation to induce everyone to make war against each other. That would terrible, a catastrophe and apocalypse,” cautioned Msgr. Puljić, expressing concern that “the wars taking place in Syria and other parts of Asia and Africa could also spread to Europe.” “I am afraid that certain prejudices could be created among Europeans by the ‘import’ of militants, causing them to hate Muslims, all refugees and all who come to Europe, although many are coming due to misfortune. I should not like such an attitude to be created among Europeans. Instead, Europe must know itself, learn about its roots, in order to wake up and make itself stable and safe. A united Europe will become a force. It is already a world power. However, it is still not stable. The mechanisms have not started working as they should. It is a fact that there are many people who are not satisfied with this project, perhaps in Europe itself, perhaps outside of Europe. However, I am sure that Europe has a future,” said Msgr. Puljić. He spoke about the past century, what Europe had meant for the entire word, for Africa, Asia and America, not only in the religious and cultural spheres but also economically and in other areas. “The world needs such a Europe. I want and bless such a Europe and desire its success,” said the archbishop. He noted that the destabilization of Europe is underway. “It is a fact that people truly feel unsafe in their cities, in their houses, in their nations and in their states. This is disturbing. This is far from the Christmas message and that for which Christ came. However, at such moments we must not lose our heads. It is not easy. It is not easy to be responsible now. Those who are responsible for the society, political and social stability at these moments, must be clear of mind, without behaving neurotically and jumping to unhealthy conclusions, which could contribute to even greater instability. This moment is really unstable. In France, there is still a state of emergency and rigid measures will be enforced in Germany. It is necessary to ensure people’s safety without sacrificing the desire for progress, good thoughts and good deeds. We must not occupy our emotions and attitudes with negative feelings toward those who do evil,” said Msgr. Puljić, emphasizing that “it is necessary to bring all evildoers to justice, punish them but not hold attitudes that would create even greater instability and unrest. For fifty years, Europe existed without major tensions, except in our region, for which we must blame Europe. It did not intervene in time, and it could have done so. The bloodshed here could have been avoided. We have endured this. Therefore, we are afraid that such a reckoning could happen again somewhere else, God forbid.” He noted that the European project began with four committed Christians. “Europe had bled too much in its own wars, brought on by arrogance, to be able to rule over others. Then a very good project began. As Christians, we are surprised that there is no place for God or God’s plans in this project. However, this need has already been felt. Europe is already tired of agnosticism, of everything that writes God off, of the position that God has no rights. God presumably has rights in Europe. He created it through the faithful, through Christians, and now has the right to seek protection,” said Msgr. Puljić, calling attention to the pernicious secularist spirit.
The archbishop was also asked to comment on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Bosnia and Herzegovina is a litmus test for Europe. Unfortunately, Europe has blundered in some of its attitudes and views regarding Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It has the chance to wake up and correct its errors. Sarajevo is the heart of Europe. If it bleeds, so does all of Europe. Pope John Paul II called it the European Jerusalem. It is necessary to do everything so that no one in Bosnia and Herzegovina feels threatened because he is an Orthodox Christian, Catholic or Jew. It is necessary to create mechanisms so that everyone feels respected and is not endangered because he is different. Europe can do that. It is good that negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina have been started because that is the only way for the European spirit of the principles that apply to all to prevail. If these principles do not prevail, Europe will become a region of instability, which will also create instability in its surroundings. I hope and fervently want Bosnia and Herzegovina to become an integral part of Europe as soon as possible, with which it will strive together for a common future in which the values that the human heart yearns for will be achieved: stability, justice, peace and freedom.”
Requested to comment on the American election of President Donald Trump, the archbishop said that Trump has a chance and responsibility. “America needs a new Reagan who respects traditional values, furthers the development of technology and society, and regards America as a world power—not a power that oppresses but that helps others to become powers. I would like such an America. It should not become a world policeman but should help countries where the values we have mentioned have not taken hold in Asia and Africa. They have taken hold in Europe. I should be pleased if the new president succeeds in achieving this, without the destabilization and oppression of other regions and peoples,” said Msgr. Puljić.
Archbishop Puljić expressed sorrow concerning the war and suffering in Syria. “There are harrowing images from Aleppo and other places where lives are in danger, including our brother Christians who are enduring very difficult days. We sympathize and suffer with them. We know what it means to leave your home, to go to a foreign place and be left without a roof over your head. We share the anguish and suffering that Pope Francis constantly expresses. He urges us to comfort these people and receive them so they can live in peace,” said Archbishop Puljić.