On June 10, 2020, the anniversary of the proclamation of St. Joseph as the patron saint of Croatia by the Croatian Parliament in 1687, the Croatian Conference of Bishops (CCB) issued a message on the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for July 5, which we hereby present in its entirety.
1. On the occasion of the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for July 5, 2020, we Catholic bishops want to remind the members of God’s people and all people of good will that the elections of the members of the Croatian Parliament significantly affects the personal, family, sociopolitical and economic reality. For us believers, therefore, going to the polls and personally taking responsibility for a more just and prosperous society and the further development of democracy in the Croatian society is not only a civic duty but also an expression of Christian responsibility and genuine love for the homeland.
It is clear that on this occasion, we ask ourselves to which of the proposed candidates on the electoral lists should we entrust our confidence. In recent months, due to the pandemic caused by the coronavirus, we have had to relinquish many established habits. Out of health concerns, we have temporarily suspended regular liturgical celebrations and refrained from social gatherings. This experience has demonstrated the importance of having professional and competent persons in public offices and politics. Namely, only wise, professional, honest and unselfish individuals can ensure that the society progresses and grows. The epidemiological crisis has also demonstrated the importance of having an independent state, both in making our own decisions and regulations and also in the economic sense of producing food, medicines and other necessities.
2. In good faith, therefore, during this election period, we point out that it is very important to become acquainted with how individual candidates or political parties view the future of our homeland and what they intend to do to make it a place for a good and healthy life. It is important to determine and assess how the candidates intend to strengthen the independence of the state, promote openness and cooperation with other states and peoples, and effectively implement economic programs and agricultural policy, and how and what they intend to do to make the public administration more efficient and at the service of citizens. It is particularly worth noting what measures they intend to undertake to stop the wave of the emigration of young people and families, create conditions for the return of Croatian emigrants, prevent the social stratification and impoverishment of citizens, and promote the principles of a welfare state.
Furthermore, it should be noted how individual political parties and independent candidate lists intend to implement the further democratization of the society, preferably by changing the electoral law and developing a civil society on the principles of plurality and religious freedom. It is also important to see how the candidates view the crimes of all the ideologies in which members of our and other peoples were killed during and after the Second World War. Of particular importance is their attitude toward the Homeland War and whether they condemn all forms of totalitarianism as well as racial, religious and other forms of intolerance. Finally, it is essential that they promote positive and wholesome national sentiment in their program and seek the full and entire truth about past events, on the basis of which they will be able to establish a culture of dialogue, national reconciliation and community.
3. The faithful will freely decide to give their votes of confidence to those who support the protection of marriage as a union of a man and a woman, who promote the culture of life through long-term pro-natalist policies and who advocate that Sunday should be a non-working day of family togetherness and the Lord’s Day. It is also important to know how they intend to implement educational reform, which would include educational dimensions based on general human values in harmony with the Christian value system interwoven in the identity of our society. It is essential to ask how the candidates intend to advocate for the recovery of the Croatian society from ideological stratification, corruption and various forms of favoritism that destroy the good and stifle hope.
We call upon all the party and independent candidates to safeguard personal dignity and gain the trust of the citizens during the election campaign through the strength of political programs. To be a member of Parliament is not political activism that satisfies personal ambitions but a responsible office for promoting and achieving the common good. We urge the means of social communication to fulfill their mission with high standards of professionalism and to provide sufficient and clear information about the electoral programs and candidates for the future session of the Croatian Parliament. We call upon ordained officials to protect church premises from any form of election activities and pray with the faithful for the blessing and progress of the homeland.
4. We must not allow ourselves to be seized by the spirit of indifference or the temptation of resignation that nothing can be done. When someone stays home and does not go to the polls, he commits a sin of omission. Fleeing from his own responsibility, he leaves it to others to decide on his behalf. Among candidates for the office of a member of the Croatian Parliament, there are those who merit trust. Preferential voting in the election provides us with the opportunity to vote directly for the representatives we believe are capable of confronting contemporary challenges. Namely, the court of conscience is not an emotional judgment but comes from prudent judgment, responsibility and the adopted value system that inspires our Christian life.
We commend the election campaign and election itself to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom we have called Our Advocate for centuries, and to the intercession of St. Joseph, the patron saint of Croatia and the Croatian Parliament. We especially pray for the intercession and help of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, who gave his service and life to the Church and his people. With their help, we shall all approach the upcoming parliamentary elections responsibly and conscientiously.
The Bishops of the Croatian Conference of Bishops
Zagreb, June 10, 2020, on the anniversary of the day in 1687 when the Croatian Parliament proclaimed St. Joseph as the patron saint of Croatia.