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The Justice and Peace Commission: We strongly condemn every form of hate speech and violent behavior

Zagreb (IKA)

Communiqué by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Croatian Conference of Bishops on Violence in Society

The Secretariat of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Croatian Conference of Bishops has received several inquiries in regard to the Commission’s position on the increasingly frequent occurrences of violence, such as hate speech on social media, vandalism on hospital wards, family violence, beatings of young women, bullying due to ethnic background, incidents at schools in Čakovec and Medulin, a case in Zadar where a student branded two fellow students, and an attack in Split a few days ago on members of the Crvena Zvezda (Red Star) water polo team.

The Commission strongly condemns all forms of hate speech and violent behavior because not only are they the complete opposite of general human civility and respect for the dignity of every person but also incompatible with the Christian faith and the gospel message of peace. At the same time, expressions of violence toward others or those who are different from us indicate lowered thresholds of tolerance, readiness for dialogue and acceptance of diversity in our society.

We urge all people of good will, especially the faithful, to condemn and reject every form of violence and support for totalitarian ideologies, and in the spirit of genuine respect for the dignity of every human being created in the image of God, to contribute to promoting peace and justice in our Croatian society. All those who perform public, legal or political duties bear special responsibility not to increase public dissatisfaction by making unjust decisions, failing to resolve genuine social problems affecting citizens, or distorting the truth and historical events, which not infrequently lead to anger and unacceptable violent behavior.

We appeal to all those working in the means of social communication to refrain from publishing content that only contributes to worsening the negative public mood. All of us are called to promote true values and positive examples and, thereby, contribute to the general good, peaceful coexistence and righteousness in the Croatian society.

In this regard, the reference made by Mr. Antonio Tajani, President of European Parliament, to Italian Dalmatia and Italian Istria, which in a certain context could have indications of territorial pretensions, is troubling. Although it comes from a moderate and realistic politician of the center, and, we believe, may merely have been inadvertent, we wish to caution that such statements contribute to a rise of intolerance and lack of confidence in good neighborly relations.

We are called to act in the European spirit, which, among other things, rests upon respect for the inviolability of borders and, in the spirit of universal human values and Christian faith, we are called to condemn every crime and express piety for every innocent victim on any side whatsoever, because only in this way can we build a future established upon justice and peace.

In Zagreb, February 14, 2019

Msgr. Vladimir Dugalić, Ph.D.
Secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission

The Croatian Conference of Bishops