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Funeral Eulogy for Bishop Valentin Pozaić Delivered by the President of the Croatian Catholic Medical Society

Zagreb (IKA)

Prof. Rok Čivljak, President of the Croatian Catholic Medical Society (CCMS/HKLD), delivered a eulogy for the late Msgr. Valentin Pozaić, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Zagreb, the first Ecclesiastical Assistant of the CCMS (1991–2018) and former Ecclesiastical Assistant of the FEAMC (1996–2016), which we present in its entirety.

Your Eminence Cardinal Bozanić!
Your Excellency Archbishop Dražen Kutleša of the Archdiocese of Zagreb!
Esteemed father archbishops, bishops, priests, religious, nuns, consecrated persons and sorrowing members of the Pozaić family and the Croatian Catholic Medical Society!

Dear faithful!

Our beloved Bishop Valentin, Pater Pozaić!

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:1–2).

I am here today on behalf of the members of the Croatian Catholic Medical Society, who received the sad news of your passing on Monday, May 15.

You were not only one of the founders of the CCMS but also our first ecclesiastical assistant, from 1991 to 2018. During those twenty-eight years, your sermons, lectures, writings and remarks with regard to moral theology and Christian ethics were essential components of our formation.

Together with your first and closest associates in our Society, Primarius Dr. Margarita Peraica, Prof. Branimir Richter, Academician Anton Švajger, Prof. Niko Zurak, Pharmacist Marija Šaler and others, you taught us what a Catholic physician should be, especially through the books you published (Guardians of Life: The Joys and Anxieties of Healthcare Professionals, Life Worthy of Life: Euthanasia in the Opinion of Medical Ethics, AIDS …), numerous articles (Life before Birth, The Ethics of Human Birth, Cloning as a Question of Responsibility, A Reassessment of the Transplantation of Body Parts, Pastoral Healthcare as a Challenge to the Church, Euthanasia before the Law, To Die in Human Dignity, An Inquiry into the Human Genome and Gene Therapy, Theological Aspects of Medical Secrets, Pastoral Healthcare in Europe, Sexual Education of the Young from the Christian Perspective, Drug Addiction as a Moral Issue), as well as proceedings from meetings that you initiated (Writings on Medical Ethics, In the Face of Death and others).

From 1996 to 2016, you were the longest-serving ecclesiastical assistant of the European Federation of Catholic Medical Associations (FEAMC), in which you were esteemed as “prepared, cordial, mild, clear, faithful to the Magisterium of the Church and the Pope,” according to Prof. Vincenzo Defilippis, President of FEAMC. Your last encounter with the members of the international organizations of FEAMC and FIAMC (the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations) took place during the 25th Congress of the FIAMC, which was held in Zagreb from May 30 to June 2, 2018.

In 2005, when you were appointed and ordained as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Zagreb, we feared you would have to leave us, owing to your new obligations. Nevertheless, albeit with diminished intensity, you continued to serve as our ecclesiastical assistant until 2018, when you were succeeded by Rev. Prof. Ivan Bodrožić.

After serious health issues required you to relinquish your position as our ecclesiastical assistant in 2018, we saw each other less frequently. Nonetheless, every encounter with you was an occasion for joy. We were together on the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Croatian Catholic Medical Association, when you celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Zagreb on February 16, 2021, below an altarpiece depicting the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, to which Pope Francis consecrated all physicians and healthcare workers in 2019. You also joined us at the Assembly of our Society held at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Marija Bistrica on September 25, 2021, when you were proclaimed an honorary member of the CCMS for your exceptional contribution to the establishment and work of the Society in the promotion of Christian principles and public health.

Your episcopal motto, Elige vitam!—Choose life!, clearly expressed your life’s mission, which you, together with the first president of our society, Dr. Margareta Peraica, and Card. Josip Bozanić, incorporated into the Statutes of the Croatian Catholic Medical Society: the protection of human life from conception to natural death. In a symbolic manner, you also expressed this message on the occasion of your episcopal ordination in 2005 on the Feast of St. Joseph, the patron saint of fathers and the Croatian homeland, when you asked for one of the Mass readings to be read by a member of our Society, Dr. Renata Vrsalović, who at the time was nine months pregnant with her son Jakov.

You were not only our ecclesiastical assistant but also a caring father to many of our members, following not only our formation as Catholic physicians and pharmacists but also our professional careers and family lives. You married many of our members, baptized our children, administered the Sacrament of Confirmation, visited us in our homes, ministered to our loved ones, and provided us with spiritual advice as well as paternal affection.

You left us a great legacy: the love of God, the love of our fellow man and the love of our homeland, but also the quest for the sincere and compassionate care of our patients, fraternal love for our colleagues and faith in the progress of the Croatian Catholic Medical Society and the international associations of Catholic physicians.

Dear Bishop Pozaić, the members of the Croatian Catholic Medical Society shall remember you with great respect and love because you incorporated your entire being into our society. Without you, there would not even be a Croatian Catholic Medical Society and we members would have been the poorer for all that we received from you—and you gave us a lot. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

I wish to express my sincere condolences to all the faithful and priests of the Ordinariate of the Archdiocese of Zagreb, to which Bishop Pozaić belonged, headed by Archbishop Dražen Kutleša, the members of the Croatian Province of the Society of Jesus, headed by Provincial Fr. Dalibor Renić, the members of the Pozaić family, and all of Bishop Pozaić’s associates and friends.

Dear father and brother in Christ, Valentin, during your entire lifetime, you burned not only for this temporal life but also for eternal life. This is not our final parting because the Gospel according to John says: “So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. On that day you will not question me about anything” (Jn 16, 22–23).

I believe we shall meet again in the Lord, who “will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away” (Rev 21:4).

May the angels lead you into paradise;

may the martyrs receive you at your arrival

and lead you to the holy city Jerusalem.

(Antiphon: In paradisum).

Prof. Rok Čivljak, M.D., Ph.D.

President of the Croatian Catholic Medical Society