Members of the Croatian Conference of Bishops and the Bishops’ Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina held their nineteenth regular annual joint session on January 23, 2017, in the building of the Croatian Conference of Bishops, chaired by Msgr. Želimir Puljić, Archbishop of Zadar and President of the Croatian Conference of Bishops; and Cardinal Vinko Puljić, Archbishop of Vrhbosna (Sarajevo) and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina. All the members of both bishops’ conferences attended except one member of the CCB, who was unable to do so.
The Apostolic Nuncio in the Republic of Croatia, Archbishop Alessandro D’Errico, was present for part of the session and conveyed a special blessing and greetings from the Holy Father. He noted that the joint session permits consideration of important pastoral issues and challenges, and also said that this meeting provides a special opportunity for reflection about the thorny path endured by the Church of God in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
After listening to reports on the work of the Council and Directorate of Pastoral Ministry to Croats Living Abroad, which, as a joint office of the Croatian Conference of Bishops and the Bishops’ Conference of Bosnia Herzegovina, is the national office for Croatian faithful abroad, the bishops praised the work of these bodies and the commitment of the numerous priests, religious and pastoral associates in the proclamation of the faith in the Croatian language in many countries throughout the world. After hearing about the current situation among the Croatian faithful abroad, and the need for personnel in Croatian parishes, missions, associations and centers in foreign countries, the bishops issued the necessary guidelines. They are pleased that the Croatian Catholic communities do not forget their homeland in the Republic of Croatia, the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina or the regions where Croats have lived for centuries, and bravely bear witness to the faith in God and fidelity to the Catholic Church in the countries where they have found their new homes.
The bishops listened to reports by the Presidents of Caritas Croatia and Caritas Bosnia and Herzegovina on last year’s campaign, A Week of Solidarity with the Church and People in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was a continuation of the “fraternal campaigns” through which Croatian parishes helped individual parishes in Bosnia and Herzegovina to make repairs after the war. They also heard that the Bishops’ Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina launched a campaign in 2016, Sunday Solidarity, through which parishes with many members in Bosnia and Herzegovina support parishes where only a small number of the faithful remain and have clearly demonstrated the desire of the Church to survive and live with dignity in those parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina from which many have been displaced. The bishops urge all the faithful to provide such assistance to the weak and needy, as was shown during the recent war, and to encourage the members of their diocesan communities to persevere during peacetime so that their mutual bonds will be a genuine blessing to those who give and those who receive. They particularly emphasized the need for mutual bonds at the spiritual, prayer and every other level that contributes to the betterment of the Church and society.
The bishops also discussed certain common liturgical issues.
After listening to reports on the work of the Commission of the Croatian Conference of Bishops and the Bishops’ Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina for Croatian Martyrology, the bishops expressed gratitude to all the members for their commitment to the collection of information on the victims in the territories of both conferences, with the primary goal of finding those people who gave their lives out of love of the faith and for whom it would be possible to start the processes for their beatification. It was decided to convey the expectations of the bishops to Croatian government officials regarding the steps that should be taken to investigate the victims of the totalitarian systems.
The bishops listened to a report on the activities of the Council for Missions and provided guidelines for continued fruitful collaboration for the good of the missions and missionaries from the Church among the Croats.
The bishops also exchanged opinions on some issues related to religious education in schools and on possibilities for joint campaigns in the area of ecumenism and dialogue.
Zagreb, January 23, 2017
Secretariat of the Bishops’ Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Secretariat of the Croatian Conference of Bishops