FOTO: Eva Leš//67. redovno plenarno zasjedanje Sabora HBK
The 67th Plenary Session of the Assembly of the Croatian Conference of Bishops (CCB) was held at the CCB headquarters in Zagreb from November 14 to 16, 2023, and chaired by the President of the CCB, Archbishop Dražen Kutleša.
At the beginning of the Session, the Apostolic Nuncio in the Republic of Croatia, Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, greeted everyone present. The guests of the Assembly included the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Vrhbosna and Apostolic Administrator of the Military Ordinariate in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Archbishop Tomo Vukšić, who was the delegate of the Bishops’ Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina; the President of the International Episcopal Conference of Saints Cyril and Methodius and the Archbishop of Belgrade, Archbishop Ladislav Német; Bishop Coadjutor Fabijan Svalina of Srijem and Bishop Ferenc Fazekas of Subotica.
Welcoming those assembled, Archbishop Kutleša congratulated Bishop Ferenc Fazekas of Subotica on his recent episcopal appointment and ordination. He also pointed out that at this session, held immediately following the 16th Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome, there would be reflection upon the reports from that important event. He recalled Pope Francis’ remarks at the conclusion of the Synod, on the “‘principle and foundation’ from which everything begins ever anew: by loving. Loving God with our whole life and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Not our strategies, our human calculations, the ways of the world, but love of God and neighbor: that is the heart of everything.” Then Archbishop Kutleša presented the main topics to be discussed at the session.
This was followed by greetings from the guests, who briefly presented the state of the Catholic Church in their respective countries as well as the specific circumstances under which it lives and functions.
At the beginning of the working portion of the session, the bishops listened to a report from the First Session of the 16th Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, held from October 4 to 29, 2023, in Rome, which was submitted by the delegate of the Croatian Conference of Bishops to this event, Auxiliary Bishop Ivan Ćurić of Đakovo-Osijek. He provided a detailed presentation of the session of the Synod, which had been preceded by ecumenical prayer vigils and spiritual exercises for the participants. The session took place in general assemblies permeated by numerous silent prayer breaks between presentations by the speakers. Moreover, all the members of the Synod were divided into smaller groups. Bishop Ćurić pointed out that the overall work of the Synod employed the unique method of “conversation in the Spirit,” where there was attentive listening to what the Holy Spirit was saying to the Church of our time in the interpersonal conversations and individual presentations. He noted that there was a strong sense of freedom and ease at the Synod in the expression of opinions and positions, and evident diversity in the lives and circumstances of the participants. At the end of the session of the Synod, the participants jointly sent the entire Church a “Letter to the People of God,” and a summary report was published with incentives for the continuation of the Synod process, which will have its culmination in October 2024, when the Second Session of the General Assembly of the Synod will be held.
Since Pope Francis has invited the Universal Church to celebrate the Jubilee Year 2025, which will have the motto “Pilgrims of Hope,” the bishops devoted particular attention to this topic during the continuation of the session. The Pope wants next year, 2024, to be a prayerful preparation for this Jubilee. Dioceses are especially called to promote the centrality of personal and communal prayer in religious communities. The bishops were also presented with the calendar of the Jubilee events. As planned, the Papal Bull of Indiction will be promulgated in early May 2024, and the Jubilee Year will be solemnly opened on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2024, with the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. As is customary, during a jubilee year, Catholic faithful from all over the world will make pilgrimages to Rome.
The year 2025 will also be marked by two other Croatian national jubilees. That year, we shall celebrate the 1,100th anniversary of the Croatian kingdom and the 1,100th anniversary of the holding of the national synods of 925 and 928 in Split, during the reign of the Croatian king Tomislav. It was noted that the synods in our time, which in a particular way renew our sensitivity to synodality, undoubtedly represent a heritage that should be repeatedly revisited. There will be further discussion on how to commemorate these important Church and national anniversaries at future sessions.
It was decided at this session to establish the National Office for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults of the Croatian Conference of Bishops, and to accept the Rulebook on its organization and operation. The Office will consolidate the tasks performed until now by the Commission for the Protection of Minors and the Metropolitan Offices. A team of experts from various fields will be engaged in the work of the Office. The purpose for the establishment of the Office is, first of all, to improve preventive measures and protection for minors and vulnerable adults according to the documents and efforts of the Universal Church. Moreover, the revised Guidelines for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults were adopted.
The bishops also made decisions regarding some of the offices and appointments in the bodies of the Croatian Conference of Bishops. Archbishop Đuro Hranić of Đakovo-Osijek was elected as the Vice President of the CCB. Bishop Ivica Petanjek was appointed as a member of the Permanent Council. Archbishop Mate Uzinić of Rijeka was chosen as the President of the Council for the Laity, while Bishop Roko Glasnović of Dubrovnik was chosen as the President of the Council for Life and the Family and the Committee for Family Counseling Centers. The new President of the Council for Missions is Bishop Ivan Štironja of Poreč and Pula, while the new President of the Council for Culture and Church Cultural Assets is Auxiliary Bishop Ivan Šaško of Zagreb. Bishop Ivan Petanjak of Krk was named the President of the Commission of the Croatian Conference of Bishops and the Bishops’ Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina for Croatian Martyrology, and the new President of the Joint Commission of the Croatian Conference of Bishops and the Croatian Conference of Religious is Archbishop Zdenko Križić of Split-Makarska.
The presidents of the individual commissions, councils and committees of the CCB submitted reports on their work since the previous session.
The calendar of events for next year was agreed upon. An extraordinary session of the CCB will be held on January 22, 2024. The Catechetical-Pastoral Colloquium for Priests will be held from March 5 to 6, 2024. The 68th Session of the Assembly of the CCB will be held from April 9 to 11, 2024. The members of the CCB will meet with members of the Croatian Conference of Religious on June 5, 2024, and the next day, June 6, there will be an extraordinary session of the CCB. The 69th Ordinary Autumn Session of the CCB will be held from November 12 to 14, 2024.
At the end of the first day of the session, there was a presentation of the Proceedings of Demography—Emigration—Migration from the Sixth Croatian Social Week held in the year 2021. On the second day of the session, the bishops attended the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the founding of Caritas Croatia.
Secretariat of the Croatian Conference of Bishops