Budi dio naše mreže

Statement by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Croatian Conference of Bishops on the Referendum, Croatian Bunjevci, Freedom of the Media and the Exercise of Public Office in the Republic of Croatia

1. Referendum on Preferential Voting

In the case of the previous referendum regarding marriage and the family, the Church supported it because it was in accordance with the Church’s moral teachings that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, the family is founded on that union and no other comparable union can have the same effects and rights.
With regard to the referendum on preferential voting and change in the electoral system, the Permanent Council of the Croatian Conference of Bishops has stated that “it has nothing against it if it contributes to more fruitful and greater democracy, and also promotes and serves the common good of society, especially if it does not infringe upon the positive state laws and regulations of the Republic of Croatia and, moreover, does not violate the Christian values that are important parts of Croatian culture. In this regard, the opportunity was given for the civil initiative “In the Name of the Family” to collect signatures in front of churches.”
Therefore, the faithful and citizens are urged to become well informed, examine the solutions offered and decide whether to sign the petition for initiating the referendum according to their own knowledge and consciences. Without entering into the content of the referendum issues or the legislative solutions for the implementation of the referendum, we reject the possibility of placing a moratorium on referenda in the Republic of Croatia. This would mean the suspension of the democratic political order and is contrary to the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia.

2. Croatian Bunjevci

It is a painful fact that the Croatian minority in Vojvodina is politically divided into Croats and Bunjevci. However, it is unacceptable for the President of Serbia to proclaim that Bunjevci are “an autochthonous people who are neither Croats nor Serbs” and to give them textbooks in the Cyrillic alphabet. This is obviously an attempt to assimilate and denationalize the Bunjevci, in keeping with decades of Greater Serbian policies. Therefore, it is expected that the Croatian authorities will intervene to safeguard that the Croats in Serbia have all the human and minority rights that Serbs have in the Republic of Croatia. Human rights are universal and it is the duty and obligation of those in authority to take care that these rights are respected and implemented. This is especially the responsibility of Croatian authorities in regard to Croats living outside the homeland.

3. Freedom of the Media and the Integrity of Holders of Public Office

Lately, there have been considerable pressure and interference by individuals and institutions regarding freedom of the media. This is a cause for concern when such pressure comes from the offices of high officials in the Republic of Croatia. Therefore, it is urged that all, especially those in authority, should promote the independence, freedom and responsibility of the public and private media.
It is also to be expected that office holders should only be those who are moral, virtuous and concerned with the public/general good and not with private interests. We are aware that this ideal is sometimes difficult to achieve in its entirety. Nevertheless, it is always necessary to bear this ideal in mind and strive toward it. In this respect, the legislators should organize the legislative framework in such a way as not to lose sight of the ideal required for the exercise of public office.

In Zagreb, September 22, 2014
+ Vlado Košić
President of the Justice and Peace Commission
The Croatian Conference of Bishops