"Cardinal Stepinac was a defender of the truth, to which he not only bore witness with his words and teachings, but for which he also gave his life. Therefore, we are pleased to state that his sanctity has already been confirmed by the process of beatification. The Catholic faithful in Croatia may venerate Stepinac as a beatus, invoke him as a friend of God and view him as a model and witness in our time."
Zagreb, (IKA) – On October 30, following the ceremony of the blessing of the Main Auditorium of the Catholic University of Croatia and the Lectio magistralis, the Pope’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, held a press conference, in which the participants also included the host of the encounter, the Archbishop of Zagreb and Grand Chancellor of the Catholic University of Croatia, Cardinal Josip Bozanić, at whose invitation the Secretary of State of the Vatican had come to Zagreb; the Apostolic Nuncio in the Republic of Croatia, Msgr. Giuseppe Pinto; the Rector of the Catholic University of Croatia, Prof. Željko Tanjić, Ph.D., and Fr. Borna Puškarić, Head of the Press Office of the Archdiocese of Zagreb.
In response to the first question, related to the canonization of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, Cardinal Parolin said that he recognized the immense love the people feel for this great pastor of the Croatian nation. “Cardinal Stepinac was a defender of the truth, to which he not only bore witness with his words and teachings, but for which he also gave his life. Therefore, we are pleased to state that his sanctity has already been confirmed by the process of beatification. The Catholic faithful in Croatia may venerate Stepinac as a beatus, invoke him as a friend of God and view him as a model and witness in our time, which is different from when he had to confront the three totalitarianisms,” said Cardinal Parolin.
In response to the question of when Blessed Alojzije Stepinac will be canonized, Cardinal Parolin cited a saying he learned while serving as the Apostolic Nuncio in Venezuela: “God’s time is the perfect time. Let us wait for God’s time so that I will be able to answer your question.” In reference to the work by the Mixed Commission of the Croatian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Serbian Orthodox Church, whose task it was to consider Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac’s role prior to, during and after the Second World War, Cardinal Parolin emphasized that Pope Francis cares about the results of its work. “You saw the joint statement. We did not reach identical interpretations of the historical context in which Stepinac lived. From the beginning it was clear, as noted in the joint statement, that the canonization of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac is an internal matter of the Catholic Church, which I think should be emphasized. The Holy Father does not want this to be issue that will create tensions between the two nations but will instead help them on their common path. I believe that the work of the commission was useful and that this process furthered dialogue and mutual understanding. It seems to me that the first one to be satisfied is precisely Cardinal Stepinac.”
In response to a question about when Pope Francis could visit Croatia, the Secretary of State answered that he believes that the Pope is considering this invitation. “You have to take into account that the Holy Father has received many such invitations from around the world. He must consider what is possible in order to make a final decision. I believe that he is thinking about that invitation, although I must say that at this moment there is no specific information with regard to his visit or when it could take place.”
Cardinal Parolin was also asked a question in connection with Međugorje. “Yesterday, when I was travelling from Rome to Croatia via Split, I met a large group of pilgrims from Argentina who were going to Međugorje. I have recently spoken with people who have testified to the great interest in Međugorje. I am aware that a large encounter of young people was held there this summer. You know that a commission was established to study this phenomenon. The commission submitted its conclusions to the Holy Father. Naturally, in addition to the issue of considering the supernatural character of the events in Međugorje, there is also the entire issue related to pastoral ministry there, which is what interests us the most at the moment because many people make pilgrimages to Međugorje. Thus, it is the desire of the Holy See to help regulate this phenomenon so that the faithful who go there can better listen to the Word of God, celebrate the sacraments and have an authentic experience of faith. Therefore, Msgr. Hoser recently went to Međugorje, with the task of gathering information and reporting on the situation to the Holy See, in order to respond to the challenges of pastoral ministry and enable us to discuss what the next step in this regard should be,” said Cardinal Parolin.
The Pope’s Secretary of State also answered a question in connection with the agreements between the Holy See and the Republic of Croatia. “I personally do not see a reason to revise these four international agreements between the Holy See and the Republic of Croatia. It seems to me that these agreements can still regulate relations between the Church and state very well, within a society that is more plural than in the past, but where the Church, owing to historical reasons and its actual role, still has a very important role. I would also like to say something in general regarding the issue of the agreements that regulate relations with the Hoy See. At this moment, the Holy See is working on many such agreements, particularly with those countries that are just emerging and assuming increasing importance, in Africa, for example. I should like to note that the agreements are not expressions of privilege but of mutual assistance by both parties, the Holy See and the particular countries, in order to achieve the general good of the individuals and the communities. This is the purpose of such agreements,” said Cardinal Parolin. In conclusion, he answered a question in connection with efforts on the path toward reconciliation and peace, with regard to the difficulties encountered in this process. “At the theoretical level, things are very simple. The Church should be a factor of unity, community and reconciliation. That is its task, which ensues from its being. It seems to me that important steps are being taken in that direction. It seems to me that the relations among the Christian Churches in Croatia are very positive. The fact that we also had the Mixed Commission on the topic of Cardinal Stepinac is a positive sign that we are on a good path. I am sorry that there are some dissenting voices but here we have to be patient and go forward, albeit slowly. The wounds left by historical facts cannot be overcome from today to tomorrow. It seems to me that it is important to bear in mind the direction toward which we should strive, that is, work on mutual community and peace. Inter-religious and ecumenical dialogue are the first and basic tools for achieving this goal,” concluded Cardinal Parolin, according to the Press Office of the Archdiocese of Zagreb.