FOTO: Eva Leš//Nadbiskup Đuro Hranić
On November 16, at a press conference held following the 67th Ordinary Plenary Session of the Assembly of the Croatian Conference of Bishops, the new vice president of the Croatian Conference of Bishops, Archbishop Đuro Hranić of Đakovo-Osijek, stressed the importance of a long-term demographic policy that would not depend upon which party is in power.
He said that the Croatian bishops are highly involved with demographic issues in the Republic of Croatia. For years, the Church in Croatia has supported excellent Croatian demographers in their efforts and appealed to those responsible in the Croatian society to respond to the demographers’ proposals with concrete measures rather than mere words.
“We agree with the demographers and note that for years Croatian policies have not responsibly confronted their analyses, proposed solutions, warnings or urgings for changing the demographic situation in Croatia with sufficient seriousness,” said Archbishop Hranić.
“Demographic problems are serious and troubling, but they are vital issues of importance to the future of the Croatian nation, which must be addressed without delay and not set aside,” commented Archbishop Hranić.
He noted that currents in values and ideas, public opinion, the dominant postmodern culture, means of social communication and fashionable populistic liberal policies have joined together in declaring marriage and families to be backward conservative institutions, and measure their success by the increasing indications that point to the dissolution of marriage and the family and to the limited reach of the Church’s influence in the life of the society.
He warned of the difficulties that our society has endured, including the economic crisis, corrupt patterns of behavior and problems in the functioning of the rule of law, which have resulted in emigration, particularly among young educated persons and young families with children, which powerfully reflects upon the demographic image of the society and state.
He also said that counties and municipalities have adopted valuable demographic measures in recent years that support families and children, and there had been some good proposals at the national level. However, he cautioned that “our politicians tend to think about four-year mandates.”
Pointing out that nothing can change in terms of demographics during a four-year mandate, Archbishop Hranić said that a long-term demographic policy is needed that should be adopted, if not by the consensus of all, which would be ideal, then at least by a majority, so that there would not be a change in the demographic policy when the party in power is replaced.
“We are not only in a demographic recession but in a demographic collapse. It would be ideal if we could successfully halt the demographic decline and then gradually, through long-term measures, achieve the kind of results obtained by certain countries that adopted demographic measures several decades ago and are implementing them systematically,” said Archbishop Hranić.
He called upon the media to ask politicians during pre-election campaigns about the demographic issues that merit serious confrontation.
Noting that this year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the of the CCB Center for the Promotion of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Bishop Hranić said that through and with the help of the Center, the Church wants to have a serious presence in the thinking of the society and the current social topics as well as evangelical matters: questions of justice, fairness in society, environmental issues and other current questions. We want to promote the principles of the social doctrine of the Church so that they are present in deliberations on current social topics, added Archbishop Hranić.
The Archbishop of Đakovo-Osijek also mentioned that we are encountering a serious labor shortage and are being forced to import workers.
““We bishops do not think that it is good that the immigration policy and the importation of workers are left solely to employers, and that the state does not exercise better control to assure that these people are not being exploited, and their human dignity is respected. We bishops feel that we are called to be close to such people on the social and humanitarian levels. We are thinking about how to help them fit into our Croatian society. We are thinking about language courses for individual groups. We need to expand our thinking that we must shift from an ethnic Croatia toward a political Croatia. We shall receive people who will be citizens of the Republic of Croatia, who will have Croatian citizenship, but will not be ethnic Croats. Nevertheless, they are just as much citizens of the Republic of Croatia as autochthonous ethnic Croats. We must take the future into account so that we shall have a society that will not be divided but where we shall know how to respect one another. For us Christians, tolerance is too little. The task before us is to love. I must love my neighbor as myself. We are called as a Church to introduce the dimension of feelings for the people who are coming to the Republic of Croatia as a workforce, for them to be truly accepted and made equal to the other citizens of the Republic of Croatia,” said Archbishop Hranić.
During the session, the bishops participated in the presentation of proceedings entitled “Demography—Emigration—Migration” from the Sixth Croatian Social Week.