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Press Release from the Semi-Annual Meeting between the Government of the Republic of Croatian and the Croatian Conference of Bishops

Zagreb (IKA)

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and members of the Government of Croatia held a regular semi-annual meeting with the members of the Permanent Council of the Croatian Conference of Bishops on Monday, December 6, 2021, at the Banski Dvori in Zagreb. 

Satisfaction with the quality of the relations between the Government and the Catholic Church as well as the continuation of dialogue on numerous social issues that concern the Croatian Conference of Bishops and Government was expressed.

The participants at the meeting expressed satisfaction with the proposal for the implementation of the Agreement on Caritas of the Catholic Church in the Republic of Croatia, which will regulate mutual cooperation in the area of charitable and social welfare institutions and provide specific permanent guarantees regarding the involvement of Caritas Croatia in humanitarian, charitable, healthcare, pharmaceutical, educational and other activities in the archdioceses, dioceses and ordinariates. 

The bishops and government representatives discussed the topic of demography. The Prime Minister reported on the policies and measures being implemented in all areas to stop negative demographic trends. The meeting participants agreed that demographic recovery is one of the most important issues for the future development of Croatia. Representatives of the Permanent Council welcome the efforts by the Government and support the implementation of a systematic demographic policy. The bishops reported that the issue of demography had been addressed at the recently held Sixth Croatian Social Week organized by the Center for the Promotion of the Social Doctrine of the Church of the CCB, and expressed interest in working with the Government and the Central State Office for Demography and Youth.

In connection with the battle against COVID-19, support and closeness was expressed with all the healthcare and medical personnel who have been investing superhuman efforts since the pandemic was declared to provide the necessary assistance and care for the sick, thereby placing their own health at risk but also sacrificing their private and family lives. Out of concern for the person and the desire to improve the society in which we live, we invite all citizens, all believers and all people of good will to contribute to overcoming the health and social crisis we are witnessing, primarily through vaccination as a means of preventing and combatting virus transmission, responsible behavior, concern for the protection of one’s own health and that of one’s loved ones, respect for the daily appeals issued by medical professionals as well as all anti-epidemic measures for the protection of human life and health. It is in this spirit that mandatory testing for those who have not been vaccinated or have survived COVID should be accepted, including the usefulness of COVID certificates as a means for reducing the risk of contracting and transmitting the virus. Only by combining all the available measures, which are not sufficient individually, can we control the spread of the epidemic more effectively.

At the meeting, there was also discussion of problems in connection with proving the legal succession of the legal entities of the Church, which has had a negative impact on the restitution of Church property. It was agreed that within the framework of the Joint Commission for Legal Affairs of the Government and the Croatian Conference of Bishops, jurisprudence in the context of the laws and agreements between the Holy See and the Republic of Croatia will be analyzed in detail and, if necessary, the legislative framework will be improved.

They also discussed the funding provided for the repair and renovation of religious buildings (churches, parish rectories, convents and other structures) and concluded that they will continue to cooperate in the renovation process and complete the work to make the buildings safe as soon as possible.

The meeting was attended by the President of the Croatian Conference of Bishops, Msgr. Želimir Puljić; Cardinal Josip Bozanić, Archbishop of Zagreb and Vice President of the CCB; and other members of the Permanent Council: the Chairman of the CCB Commission for Relations with the State, Msgr. Dražen Kutleša; Msgr. Đuro Hranić and Msgr. Zdenko Križić. The General Secretary of the CCB, the Rev. Krunoslav Novak, was also present.

The Prime Minister was accompanied by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Davor Božinović; The Minister of Culture and Media and Chairwoman of the Commission for Relations with Religious Communities, Nina Obuljen-Koržinek; the Minister of Health, Vili Beroš; the Minister of Justice and Public Administration, Ivan Malenica; State Secretary at the Ministry of Finance, Zdravko Zrinušić; State Secretary at the Central State Office for Demography and Youth, Željka Josić; State Secretary at the Ministry of Labor, Pension System, Family and Social Policy, Marija Pletikosa; Head of the Office of the Prime Minister, Zvonimir Frka-Petešić; Head of the Office of the Commission for Relations with Religious Communities, Šime Jerčić; and Special Advisors to the Prime Minister, Mate Granić and Zvonko Kusić.