Susret episkopa Srpske pravoslavne Crkve u Hrvatskoj i predstavnika Hrvatske biskupske konferencije u Požegi
A meeting was held at the Bishop’s Residence in Požega between the bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Croatia and representatives of the Croatian Conference of Catholic Bishops on January 17, in a Christmas atmosphere on the eve of the International Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, at the invitation of the Catholic Bishop of Požega, Msgr. Antun Škvorčević, President of the Council of the Croatian Conference of Bishops for Ecumenism and Dialogue.
The participants from the Serbian Orthodox Church were the Metropolitan of Zagreb-Ljubljana, Porfirije Perić; the Bishop of Gornji Karlovac, Gerasim Popović; the Bishop of Slavonia, Jovan Ćulibrk; the Bishop of Dalmatia, Nikodim Kosović; and the Bishop of Osječko Polje and Baranja, Heruvim Đermanović.
In addition to the host, Bishop Antun Škvorčević of Požega, the participants from the Croatian Conference of Catholic Bishops were the Archbishop of Zadar and President of the Croatian Conference of Bishops, Želimir Puljić; the Archbishop and Metropolitan of Split-Makarska and President of the Episcopal Commission of the Croatian Conference of Bishops for Dialogue with the Serbian Orthodox Church, Marin Barišić; the Archbishop and Metropolitan of Đakovo-Osijek, Đuro Hranić; and the Bishop of Hvar and General Secretary of the Croatian Conference of Bishops, Petar Palić.
At the beginning of the meeting, the host, Bishop Antun Škvorčević, welcomed the participants, expressing the conviction that at this meeting between Serbian Orthodox and Catholic bishops, the attitude that St. Paul recommended to the Colossians prevailed. The apostle convinced them that for those who believe in Christ, “there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.” Then he continued, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful” (Col 3:11‒15). Then the group was addressed by Metropolitan Porfirije Perić and Archbishop Želimir Puljić.
The Catholic and Serbian Orthodox bishops discussed the importance of their mutual encounters in order to promote openness, trust, benevolence, understanding and the elimination of prejudice. They pointed out that in Croatian public life there are negative attitudes, maliciousness, focus on the negative qualities of others while passing over one’s own, which divides people, creates a lack of trust and alienates people from each other. The Catholic and Serbian Orthodox bishops agreed that they should make joint public appearances in order to encourage the faithful to promote togetherness over every form of national or political exclusivity, according to evangelical precepts. They also mentioned several current issues in public life, especially concerning discussions on the extensive suffering during the Second World War, the immediate postwar period and the unhealed wounds left in many souls, both Croatian and Serbian, by the War in Croatia from 1991 to 1995, especially those whose loved ones were killed or went missing. The Catholic and Serbian Orthodox bishops issued a separate statement on this issue.
The meeting took place in a fraternal atmosphere of cordiality and mutual trust.