EUCHARISTIC CELEBRATION ON THE OCCASION OF THE INSTALLATION OF THE NEW ARCHBISHOP OF ZAGREB
ADDRESS BY ARCHBISOPH OF ZAGREB JOSIP BOZANIĆ
Zagreb, October 5, 1997, (IKA)
Msgr. Josip Bozanić, Archbishop of Zagreb
Sermon, Zagreb Cathedral, October 4, 1997
I greet you, Holy Church of Zagreb.
In the words of St. Paul the Apostle, I greet you, Church of God in Zagreb, honorable Church of the Zagreb Archdiocese, all of you who have been consecrated in Christ Jesus and called to be a holy people, and all who, wherever you may be, call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace and peace be with you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I continually thank my God for you because of the favor he has bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, in whom you have been richly endowed with every gift. (cf. 1 Cor 1, 2-5). “I give thanks to my God through Jesus Christ for all of you because your faith is heralded throughout the world. The God I worship in the spirit by preaching the gospel of his Son will bear witness that I constantly mention you in prayer” (Rom 1, 8-10).
Brothers and sisters, it is right for the glory of God that we recall together the great and varied gifts that have enriched the ancient Church of Zagreb for the past nine centuries, through its martyrs, priests, shepherds, women and men of pure and effective faith.
As the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, emphasized at the hippodrome in Zagreb in 1994, the Zagreb Church is heir to the ancient Christian heritage of continental Croatia, the heritage of St. Quirinus, bishop and martyr of Siscia [Sisak]; the heritage of the first millennium of Christianity in these territories. The Zagreb Church is blessed by numerous citizens of heaven. From a long series of men and women, we mention St. Marko Križevčanin, presbyter; the blessed Augustin Kažotić, bishop, servant of God; Bishop Josip Lang, the Franciscans Ante Antiæ and Vendelin Vošnjak, and the layman Ivan Merz. At the close of this twentieth century and second millennium, it is with piety and great yearning that we anticipate the joyous day when the saintliness of the most luminous figure of the Holy Church of Zagreb will shine upon us — the servant of God Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, whose earthly remains in this cathedral are honored with great piety by the faithful.
Pope John Paul II sent me here today to be the religious leader of this Zagreb Church. I hereby accept the Pope#!s unexpected and surprising decision, that required me to change the milieu of my life and work, that required me to come to you, henceforth associating and binding my life with yours, solely and only in faith and submission to Divine providence that guides the course of history. This submission could be summarized in the words that the author of the epistle to the Hebrews placed in the mouth of our Lord Jesus Christ: “I have come to do your work, Lord!” (Heb 10, 7).
From my heart, I thank the many, truly many people who have congratulated me during the past weeks and months on my appointment, and these days on assuming the office of the archbishop of Zagreb. I promise to mention them before the Lord.
I come, therefore, in the spirit of obedience to God#!s will as revealed in the decision by the Holy Father, to whom from this place I promise sincere love, lasting fidelity and filial devotion. And to you, our papal representative in Croatia, Most Reverend Msgr. Giulio Einaudi, at this solemn celebration I greet you and request you to convey my expressions of devotion and communion with the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. The Apostolic See, that you represent among us, is not only a guarantee of Catholic communion. The ancient and recent historical experience of our Croatian nation testifies that a firm bond with the Holy See provides effective support for Church and national identity.
I know that in Zagreb a Church is awaiting me that Christ has consecrated: a Church that believes and loves, a Church that endures and suffers, and a Church that hopes. By the sacramental episcopal order and Papal appointment, I am now grafted to this Church to be a part of its life. A Church of many petitioners awaits me here. I thank you, my dear brothers and sisters, for the prayers to the Almighty for you new archbishop in the past weeks and months. You are my solace.
During this ceremony, Most Eminent and dear Cardinal (Kuharić), I wish first to address you. Like Moses, you led the faithful of the Zagreb Archdiocese and our homeland Church for nearly three decades. You have gathered us in Marija Bistrica, Solin and Nin. From the grave of Archbishop Cardinal Stepinac, you have testified to the truth and encouraged many during the difficult period of communist darkness and pressure. Although afflicted by war, we were fortified by hope at the dawning of new times when you presented us in such great numbers to the Holy Father in Zagreb. Thank you, father Cardinal! For you, the acknowledgement of the apostle applies literally: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on a merited crown awaits me; on that Day the Lord, just judge that he is, will award it to me” (2 Tim 4, 7-8). Today, on the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, I warmly congratulate you on your name day and commend myself to your prayers. I await your brotherly advice and rejoice in continued association with you.
Your Eminence, our Cardinal, I thank you personally for your prayers. I know that you have long prayed for your successor. Today, you turned over the bishop#!s staff to me. This outward act signified the transfer of the pastoral office in the Zagreb Archdiocese from you to me. You ordained me as bishop, an apostolic successor, when you laid your hands upon me. In this honorable see of the Zagreb bishops and archbishops, I assume the 76th place, the place behind yours, and behind our predecessor and Counciliar father, Cardinal Franjo Šeper; and he behind the servant of God Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac — a witness to faith who spread the voice of our persecuted and martyred Church throughout the world — and thus going back to the first shepherd of this ancient Church, Bishop Duh.
This is a heritage that carries responsibilities and at this time has been placed in our hands; in the hands of the shepherd of this Church, his presbyters and God#!s entire nation. After the establishment of the dioceses of Požega and Varaždin, from today onward, the Zagreb Archdiocese continues its history within new boundaries. Dear fellow priests, you are, as the Council states, wise colleagues of the episcopal order (cf. LG 28). I open my heart to you. For the beginning, I want us all to accept the program given by Jesus in the Gospel passage on the Good Shepherd: “I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (cf. John 10, 14). I repeat with St. Paul: “For I long to see you … that we may be mutually encouraged by our common faith” (Rom 1,11). I expect mutual understanding, an ability to provide well-intentioned explanations for what each of us does, for us to know how to wait a little before passing judgments and for us to be ready to forgive each other. Only through acceptance and forgiveness can there be growth in the sacramental community we entered when we received the Holy Orders. Each of us is guided by the call that I repeat at this formal celebration: stir into the flame from day to day the gift of God bestowed on you when the bishop#!s hands were laid on you (cf. 2 Tim 1,6).
“Master, we have been hard at it all night long and have caught nothing!” (Lk 5,5). How many times, brother priests, have these words of Simon Peter been in our hearts, although perhaps we have not said them aloud. However, now we are here in order to repeat with Peter: “But if you say so, I will lower the nets” (Lk 5,5). The archbishop is here, together with you, to throw this net in simplicity and confidence. Here, I want to be close to you: to you, parish priest; to you, parish vicar; to you, chaplain, to you, teacher and professor. Today much is expected of a priest. Brother priests, many come to us with various offers. We want to remain free in order to devote ourselves completely to the work of Jesus. Christ the Lord calls us to be fishers of men. This task is never finished. This calling always requires the complete submission of our human freedom to evangelical freedom. This is the proclamation that opens the heart for the foretaste of heavenly joys. To our seminarians, divinity students and the young people listening to me now, I want to repeat the same thing: it is beautiful to help others in their needs, it is beautiful to build a civilization of love, it is beautiful to exit from our own loneliness and shells, it is beautiful to create a community; and it is especially beautiful to do everything in the name of the Gospels. Therefore, it is worthwhile to beach the boat, abandon everything and follow Jesus.
You consecrated persons, members of men#!s and women#!s religious orders, are represented in such large numbers in the city of Zagreb and in the territory of our archdiocese. Many of you have the mother house of your province in this city. This Church and our times truly need witnesses who live the evangelical injunction of obedience, poverty and chastity. You are the manifestation of pluralism within the Church. As the shepherd of the Church, I want to open opportunities for your apostolates in accordance with your charisms. The needs of our Church on the threshold of the third millennium present us with many requirements. We shepherds should allocate services and tasks prudently in order to avoid wasted efforts. Therefore, brother and sister members of religious orders, I invite you to associate and negotiate regarding the implementing of your apostolates, whose goal — on various paths — is nevertheless always the same. Allow me today, on the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, to address his spiritual sons and daughters. Franciscans have deeply impressed Christianity upon the Croatian nation in our history. Our Church today thanks God for the numerous spiritual sons and daughters of St. Francis. The Croatian nation, especially at this time, needs Franciscan charism: bright hopes for the future. To you, dear brother and sister Franciscans, I say: harken to your original charism, be courageous for the new because you will gain a hundredfold.
Our Croatian nation at this historical moment needs heralds of hope who will open paths toward the future. While the nation was in the situation of defending its fundamental rights and identity, it was necessary to place an increased emphasis upon history . Now, when development is opening, the nation needs well-intentioned and truth-loving critical abilities and prophetic direction toward the future.
The Church is guided by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit arouses charisms in God#!s nation at all times when needed. The Holy Father speaks about the new Spirits and a new springtime of the Church. Christ#!s faithful laity, the renewal of this Church begins with you: from you, parents, fathers and mothers; from you who are in the royal priesthood, the nation of God realized, who with your work and suffering consecrate this world; from you, faithful laity, who feel the freshness of the spirit and submit to him in parish communities, religious societies and movements. The archbishop is counting on you in the task of new evangelization.
The year 2000 is approaching. The Pope calls us to extend our sights toward new experiences of mankind. These are the experiences of a more profound understanding of God and man. On the basis of such understanding, the individuality of a person is more emphasized. However, it is also necessary to unite the human family. Starting from this vision, we look with particular hope on Zagreb, our capital city. Zagreb is the center of Croatia and the Croatian nation, not only politically and economically but also spiritually. It is a city of meeting, creating, making connections and exchanging experiences. From the archdiocesan see of our capital city, I greet all of you: people of culture, science and the mass media. We cannot deny that our Croatian culture is imbued with Christian humanism. These are the true roots and foundations for a healthy future. Today, Croatia needs thinkers and doers, people of new vision, people of spirit who will bring understanding, negotiations and peace to an excessively radicalized and tense public life. And you, people of politics, whether you are in power or aspiring to it, do not seek for the Church to become engaged in politics in terms of participation in authority. The Church#!s mission is of another nature. The Church, open to the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, seeks only freedom — in convenient and inconvenient times — to proclaim the Gospels with all the truths contained therein.
In this transitional period, burdened by the consequences of war, the Church wants to be near to all in need: in the first place, near to the displaced persons and refugees, all who have been left without their homes, invalids and war orphans, the unemployed and retired. Promoting social justice is our priority.
Particularly close to our heart are the parishes that have suffered in our Zagreb Archdiocese. We appeal to all for solidarity and assistance in renewal and rebuilding.
As we approach the Great Jubilee, we also want the renewal of our Church. In the light of the merciful love of God the Father, we want to examine our debt to the past so that we can forgive and accept forgiveness — and thus enter the new millennium more freely.
The great jubilee of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the only mediator between God and man, requires common testimony from all Christians before the world. On the threshold of the third millennium, we need renewed testimony from people who live from faith in God.
Therefore, in this cathedral, I warmly greet the representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church led by the parish priest of Zagreb and emissary of the archhierarchy, the Rev. Milenko Popović; Bishop Vladimir Deutsch of the Evangelical Church; the representative of the Association of Baptist Churches in Croatia, Dr. Branko Lovrec; the president of the Jewish community in Zagreb, Dr. Ognjen Kraus; and the representative of the Islamic religious community in Croatia, Efendija Ševko Omerbašić.
I also greet the archbishop and bishops from Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, Yugoslavia and Austria who are present today. I thank everyone for their presence and community. I greet all who have made a pilgrimage to this cathedral today. I greet the faithful from the Krk Diocese and my native Vrbnik.
Brothers and sisters of the Church of Zagreb; representatives of the authorities who bear responsibility for this city, this region and our Homeland; and especially you, my closest associates, auxiliary bishop, canons, prebendaries, parish priests, parish vicars, priests, seminarians, divinity students, men and women members of religious orders, catechists, lay persons engaged in Church services, I end this homily by praying with you and for you:
I thank you, Lord Jesus, for assembling us today in such a large number. Thank you for this Eucharist that we celebrate to have life and have it to the full (cf. John 10, 10).
Thank you for this Cathedral that encompasses centuries of Croatian history.
Lord, save this city that is dear to you and these people who celebrate you. May Mary, who was assumed into heaven, always watch over and intercede for this city, the Zagreb Archdiocese and Croatian homeland. Amen.